Thinxtra CEO Nicholas Lambrou can remember when cloud computing was taking off. As boards and executives balanced the benefits and the risks, he said there was a realization from them that, “If they didn’t have a cloud strategy, there was a strategic risk of going extinct.”
A similar time may have arrived for the Massive Internet of Things. Businesses are focusing on efficiency at a time when inflation, labor and energy costs are rising. They are also under more pressure to improve environmental, social and governance compliance readiness.
“The current macro environment puts a lot of pressure on boards around ESG compliance and being able to demonstrate what they are doing to get to carbon net zero or improve their operational efficiencies,” Lambrou said. “That is where Industry 4.0 really comes into play.”
Factors that could influence the growth of Massive IoT
In 2022, IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide suggested expanding 5G deployments, surging currency rates, a growing embrace of artificial intelligence and the cloud and big data were supporting the growth of the IoT market in Australia and New Zealand.
Total IoT spending in Australasia was forecast by IDC to exceed AUD$16 billion (USD$10.1 billion) in 2022 — up 13% from 2021. Spending was predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10%, to hit AUD$24 billion (USD$15.2 billion) in 2026.
SEE: The complete Internet of Things cheat sheet.
In 2023, IDC forecast total Asia-Pacific spending would reach USD$277.5 billion (AUD$436 billion) this year. Rising demand for remote operations, supply chain efficiency and increasing digital footprints were given as more reasons for this expected growth in the IoT market.
Thinxtra’s Lambrou says a drive to realize operational efficiencies, growing pressure for ESG compliance and reporting, the sunset of 3G-reliant technologies in Australia, growing affordability of IoT technologies and rising IoT product awareness could spur growth.
A drive to reduce costs and realize operational efficiencies
The current business environment is driving Australian enterprises to optimise costs across their operations, Lambrou said. “I would struggle to see any organization not interested in ways to reduce the cost of doing business or increasing operational efficiencies,” said Lambrou.
IoT deployments can help organizations find ways to save. For example, supermarket giant Coles used IoT technology to improve efficiencies in shipping poultry to distribution centers. By monitoring 4,500 cold food bins, it has been able to reduce these distribution costs by 25%, through maximising food bin utilization, reducing wastage and improving delivery routing.
Growing pressure for ESG compliance and reporting
While Australia doesn’t mandate ESG reporting, proposed regulatory regimes and market developments are elevating the sustainability discussion.
“We are seeing increased pressure around dealing with operational efficiencies and addressing ESG compliance,” Lambrou said. “(IoT) has a role to play in around ESG compliance and ensuring that, when there is legislative change, organizations are doing the right thing and they have a process in place to address getting to that point of offsetting carbon and being able to report.”
The imminent sunset of 3G-reliant technologies in Australia
Australian telecommunications providers are due to switch off their 3G networks by mid-2024. Many devices that were installed or implemented using 3G technologies, which may have been the only option open to organizations when installed, might need to be replaced soon.
Lambrou said organizations may have had to rely on cellular networks designed for sending a lot of data in the past. However, the availability of the likes of 0G technologies provides more options for the future as well as better data insights through platforms and analytics.
Affordability of newer generation IoT technologies
Initially, the cost of IoT made it less attractive to businesses. The costs have come down as the technology has improved and become more efficient and cheaper to produce making it more realistic for businesses to utilize to realize cost savings.
One of the reasons for the introduction of the 0G low-power, wide-area network protocol for the IoT was to realize the cost advantages in comparison with higher cost cellular technology, enabling businesses to pay only for what they needed.
Lambrou said a modern IoT device only wakes up to send a reading and then goes back to sleep. This has helped extend the 12 to 18-month battery life of a device to three, five or even seven years, pulling down some of the cost barriers that existed previously.
Growing awareness of IoT and potential business outcomes
Awareness of IoT technologies has lagged behind the development of new platforms, devices and connectivity methods. Lambrou said awareness is rising, and customer preferences are driving the emergence of end-to-end offerings out of a formerly fragmented IoT tech market.
How will Australian enterprises use Massive IoT?
There are many potential use cases for Massive IoT technologies, Lambrou said. This could include everything from vape detection in schools to ensuring air conditioning is running at appropriate levels to reduce energy bills or monitoring cows to optimize feed management.
“It is only limited to one’s imagination,” Lambrou said.
One example is CouriersPlease. The company shifted to event-driven notifications via IoT to track transportation cages delivering 30 million parcels a year. CouriersPlease gained insights on customer behaviour — such as cages sitting idle for too long — which improved efficiency.
SEE: Our summary of industrial use cases for the IoT technologies
New Zealand-based glass manufacturer AGP eGlass also deployed Massive IoT to track over 1,750 delivery trolleys. This helped it disrupt its industry by minimizing losses and ensuring its trolley assets returned on time, so it could maintain its four-day order-to-delivery service.
Thinxtra expecting a hybrid IoT future
Thinxtra completed a $5 million capital raising in 2023. It is targeting growth in applications including operational sustainability, energy conservation and smart utilities, supply chain resilience, facilities management, indoor air quality monitoring and ESG reporting.
Lambrou said he expects the future will see organizations use a hybrid mix of different IoT technologies as they adapt to different use cases and business requirements.
“I liken it to what we saw in the cloud in that the age-old argument, should we be in the public or private cloud, or on-premises? The foregone conclusion is: Hybrid is here to stay,” Lambrou said. “It will likely be the same with the Internet of Things, where we will see instances with a blend of different technologies, including cellular,Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi.”