The role of IoT in our fast-changing world
AN OAKLINS REVIEW OF GLOBAL INVESTMENT TRENDS AND OPPORTUNITIES IN THE INTERNET OF THINGS SECTOR
At a time when we can be constantly digitally connected to each other, the Internet of Things (IoT), a huge network of devices, people and processes, is experiencing significant and rapid growth. With the number of interconnected devices around the world forecast to reach 43 billion next year, it is crucial for us to appreciate what this billion-dollar industry can mean to us at both social and economic levels.
From Europe to North America and Australia, the IoT is affecting countless industries as well as the daily lives of consumers, driving innovation and growth, and creating new and disruptive solutions in response to a wide range of challenges.
Last November, a group of Oaklins’ experts participated in a webinar focused on the IoT, to explore this modern phenomenon and discuss its possible impact on the global business community through investment trends and M&A opportunities. The panel covered subjects including soaring valuations for IoT-related companies and using the IoT to gather information on consumer attitudes and behaviour. As Oaklins’ IoT specialist Jan P. Hatje noted, “The Internet of Things is a game-changer.”
IOT SPURS AUSTRALIAN AG GROWTH
The panel then turned its attention to Australia and Oaklins’ director Jonathan Tooth, who described how the IoT was helping to address some of the challenges facing Australia’s agricultural industry. Australia, he observed, is a large country with a small population and a very big agricultural sector that is under a variety of pressures. People are migrating from the rural heartland to the urban centers on the coasts, leaving an ever-smaller population in the country’s interior.
The weather, meanwhile, is becoming more extreme and is likely to worsen as climate change progresses, and the situation is further complicated by the very limited mobile phone coverage available in these underpopulated areas.
Taken together, Tooth said, “these factors have broad implications for agriculture and new solutions are needed.” In spite of the obstacles, the Australian government is pushing for agriculture to grow from a US$70 billion industry to one worth US$100 billion, and the IoT is seen as the way to bridge this gap.
Technologies such as satellite communications can compensate for the limited phone coverage, while GPS systems and remote data collection tools can reduce food production costs, increase yields and provide farmers with actionable data that allows them to manage their land, crops and herds more efficiently. Continuously collecting and analyzing farm data, Tooth said, has the potential to overcome many issues:
― Animal management can be improved by continuously tracking cattle movements. This reduces the amount of labour needed to manage a herd while giving farmers better control over their livestock. Outbreaks of disease, for example, can be thwarted by monitoring large herds for animals in distress.
― Crop yields can be boosted by collecting and analyzing weather and soil data. This lets farmers optimize their use of irrigation and nutrients, and make better use of their resources.
― Energy consumption and labour requirements can be reduced by automating farm equipment. Automation allows farmers to control and maintain their equipment remotely, allowing them to use their time more efficiently and affording them a better work-life balance.
― Overall farm productivity can be increased through the use of data-intensive precision farming. By collecting and analyzing data from all of the above sources, farmers can respond in real-time to any changes in their working environment.