Can IoT have an impact on the climate?

IoT is a massive driver in developing new products, solutions and business models. Everything is becoming more and more connected in the world around us. We see innovators presenting new innovations. We hear product developers launching new, unique and innovative products, one after the other. So can IoT help us make the world a better place?

This post was first published in The Voice of IoT. August 2022

In the early 90s, I landed my first sales job selling wireless networks. With these data radio networks, we had a powerful tool to make machines talk to other machines: -networks that used no wires.
We built powerful, wireless networks that enabled machines to exchange information over long distances. The benefits of remote control were obvious. It meant less travelling and, at the same time, allowed the engineers to respond faster to problems. The systems helped the customer make better and faster analyses, drastically reducing costs. These systems were the precursors of the Internet of Things, where intelligent things can be connected to the internet and exchange information

IoT-The enabler of possibilities

I’m still in the industry of machines talking to other machines without cables. I wake up every morning knowing I’m contributing to reliable and sustainable technological solutions that will positively impact humanity. Would my answer be to put more devices on the market to solve the climate crisis? No, but it is a strong candidate as an enabler.

By putting more hardware on the market, we need to manufacture more devices. More devices mean more infrastructure that equates to more data centres, all of which negatively impact the climate, right? My goal is not to sell as many devices as possible. I want to ensure that every device deployed uses its potential to the maximum. It manages to live a long and trouble-free life as an enabler no matter where it gets installed. Maximising the potential of every connected thing makes a change for the better overall. More things connected is not the automatic answer to a positive impact on sustainability; it will not be an autonomous path to a better climate. But connected devices that send valuable data can be an enabler.

With the right approach

Studies have shown that more than 80% of IoT users use IoT technology as an enabler to change their environmental impact. But as we all know, change is often faster if economic goals are also part of the equation. As IoT offers many business benefits, it can accelerate progress more quickly. I’ll give you a few more reasons why I think you should embrace IoT.

1. Business continuity
IoT helps businesses adapt quickly to crises or unforeseen situations. It was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. IoT can keep companies running better in difficult times. Remote management and data collection are two of the most beneficial impacts IoT brought to organisations when we couldn’t travel.

2. Driving innovation
Businesses are using IoT to leverage previously untapped data, gathering new insights that help to drive strategic thinking and develop innovative projects. Therefore IoT can give companies insights that they are performing their best to stay ahead of the curve. Companies can gain data-driven insights from IoT data to make better business decisions. Machines can use AI and other analytics models to make the right decisions faster.

3. Business success
IoT is a future-proof technology. Most companies that have started using IoT say it is critical to their future success. IoT is also creating new business models and revenue streams, enabling a seamless connection between the physical business world and the digital one to accelerate value creation.

4. Improving the customer experience
A typical example is manufacturers who have implemented sensors in their products to get feedback on their performance. The sensors can help companies see when a component is about to fail and replace it before it does. Companies can also use sensor data to streamline their systems and supply chains. They will have much more reliable real-time data on how components are affected and insights into what works in the real world. IoT will lead to faster adaptation to the market’s real needs and enable more rapid alignment of new products and services with actual customer experiences.

Who benefits from using IoT?

IoT has many exciting applications and uses, but not all will lead to a better climate. I know applications that certainly won’t. The connected hairbrush analyses your hair and tells you which shampoo to use to get the most beautiful hair. But there are many other applications where IoT will make a difference.

Where do I start?

IoT can be used in many areas and help us strive to meet the Agenda 2030 goals. But how do you get started? I’ll share some insights.

1. Involve your team, make sure they are on board, get their input and put together a team with as many professions as possible.

2. Organisations that fail with IoT forget to answer the critical question, “-How does this fit into our business model?”.

3. Measure too much. Once you start testing IoT, a word of advice: Don’t overthink the solution you’re about to try. You may think that temperature and humidity are the main factors you want to measure. Still, later, you’ll realise that you also want to measure presence in a room. So start with tests that measure as many variables as possible and then analyse the data collected.

4. Analyse to find your minimal viable solution. As you have the whole team on board, and a business model that works and has been tested in practice, it is simply time to scale up.

You probably have IoT professionals in your network. But when you pick your next IoT partner, let me give you some advice. Choose carefully so that, like me, you can sleep well at night for years to come, confident that what you put on the market works optimally for the climate, people, and the environment. That way, we can ensure that IoT can make a real difference