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Internet of Things: A connected world

A connected world

How IoT can help organisations make data-informed decisions.

By seamlessly connecting machines, humans and data, IoT can help to simplify, automate and improve processes, increase efficiency and save time and money.

Helena Sans

National Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms, Barclays Corporate Banking

Technologies working together for a better future

Broadly defined as the multitude of internet-connected devices and technology that collect and share data, there is very little we do nowadays that doesn’t involve the Internet of Things (IoT) in some way. From smart watches, phones and TVs, to smart energy meters, connected thermostats, internet-enabled home security and comfort systems, and so much more.

Both the public sector and private enterprises are fast appreciating the value of IoT within their operations and supply chains – using these intelligent assets to collect data, better understand what’s happening in their organisations, drive efficiencies and make more informed decisions.

Data-based decisions

By helping to shape policy, accelerate innovation and develop new markets, techUK plays a key role championing technology to help deliver a better future for people, society, the economy and the planet.

We spoke to Sue Daley, Director of Tech and Innovation at techUK, the UK's technology trade association, about the role of the Internet of Things (IoT) in helping businesses across all industries and specifically within the public sector to simplify, automate and improve processes, increase efficiencies and save time and money.

Connected technologies

While not everyone may be familiar with the ins and outs of IoT, it's technology is quickly permeating our everyday lives. With some estimates suggesting there will be 83bn IoT connections worldwide by 2024^, Sue says: “Whether it’s in the consumer, industry or public infrastructure space, IoT technology is enabling better decisions based on data.”

Technological advances

Ongoing advances in technology, the availability of lower cost hardware, and the urgent need to solve pressing global challenges such as climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic are also contributing to IoT’s rapid growth.

Intersecting technology

But IoT doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Sue explains: “The real ‘magic’ happens when it intersects with other technologies. Used in conjunction with the likes of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), multi-edge computing (MEC) and 5G, it’s possible to produce extremely accurate real-time insights. All of this offers so many exciting opportunities.”

Key applications

Although IoT is prevalent across most sectors, some of the key use cases can be found in logistics and supply chain management, transport, agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, finance and energy.

For example, the Elizabeth Line in London has over 16 million digital parts. These connected devices are monitoring the line in real or near-real time, managing its maintenance and enabling potential issues and repairs to be addressed before they become significant problems.

Sue Daly

Director of Tech and Innovation at techUK

“Similarly, the Environment Agency makes use of solar-powered connected devices for flood monitoring. IoT enables it to access the necessary information in real time without sending people into the field.

Data input is critical to the creation of digital twins – digital replicas of a physical asset or object. Rather than just a virtual model or illustration, digital twins are enriched with real time data gathered through IoT and other sources. The increase in cloud-based solutions means we can process this data quickly, giving asset operators and engineers a very clear idea of how an asset is performing at a given time.”

Partnering for success

Sue believes the key to adopting IoT is for business leaders to acknowledge what it could mean for their organisations: “First and foremost, they need to work out what they want to achieve. They need to have a clear vision of what role IoT will play, how it can help them understand their operations and processes, and how it can drive efficiencies and provide value. An IoT strategy should ideally form part of the wider digital transformation agenda, recognising how it can work seamlessly with other technologies.”

However, Sue appreciates that many businesses may not have the necessary IoT expertise in-house, and they may need to work with a partner: “The good news is that there is a vibrant marketplace for IoT in the UK, and it has a good ecosystem able to support a range of different sized businesses.”

“We’re going to see more smart homes, smart buildings, smart infrastructure, and ways to solve growing economic and societal challenges such as the cost of living crisis and climate change. As these technologies continue to develop, we’ll probably see them converging, with no single technology holding the answer on its own.”

Given the many ways in which organisations can use IoT, we’ve spoken to four organisations to explore a few of the opportunities available to businesses – as well as providing insights into the key IoT challenges and how to overcome these. You can read their stories on these pages, but here is a quick summary of their key takeaways to help businesses successfully adopt IoT.

1

Have a clear vision

To successfully adopt IoT, businesses first need to be clear about what they want to achieve with it – developing a vision is key. This includes mapping out how it interacts with other technologies and its role within a wider digital strategy.

2

Invest in the right solutions

Assessing and selecting the most suitable technology, infrastructure and networks is essential.

Of course, organisations also need to ensure their teams have the necessary knowledge and skill sets to support the deployment of IoT. Those businesses without the necessary expertise in-house may want to work with an appropriate IoT partner.

3

Secure your data

As IoT networks and devices create and collect a vast amount of data that needs to be processed, organised and analysed, securing the network and data is paramount. This requires robust data management policies and governance.

4

Build trust

Building trust and confidence in these emerging technologies is also key to success. Businesses should be transparent in their actions, and help their employees, customers and other stakeholders understand the benefits of IoT, as well as how the data will be used.

5

Implement with caution

Finally, as with any new technology, organisations need to take time to understand what the IoT implementation journey will look like, including the key challenges and barriers to adoption.

A connected future: How Barclays can support your organisation

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the future is, undoubtedly, going to involve more and more connected devices – and companies would be well advised to start thinking about IoT’s role within their organisations, if they haven’t done so already.

From providing financial data analytics and insights that help businesses make informed decisions, to our PrecisionPay offering that makes virtual card payments easier and faster, Barclays offers a growing range of digital solutions to support our customers on their IoT journeys.

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