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August 24, 2021

IoT and Our New Normal

The pandemic has accelerated digitalization across industries. As the world struggles to get back on its feet, how can the Internet of Things (IoT) help create a safer, more resilient, and sustainable future?

“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine,” Peter Sondergaard, then a senior vice president at Gartner, said in 2011. A decade later, the Internet of Things (IoT) is helping companies acquire and analyze vast amounts of critical data to improve operational efficiency, foster innovation, and ensure business continuity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital adoption, moving everyday tasks into the digital realm--from work and shopping to education and fitness. This paradigm shift is here to stay.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that there will be 55.7 billion connected devices worldwide by 2025. Of these, 75% will be connected to an IoT platform. The global market intelligence firm estimates that connected IoT devices will generate 73.1 zettabytes of data by 2025, up from 18.3 zettabytes in 2019.

This global health crisis has kept many of us apart for more than a year, but technology has kept us connected. As the world struggles to get back on its feet, IoT can play a crucial role in building a safer, more cost-effective, and resilient future.

In this article, we take a look at what IoT is and how it has helped businesses better navigate this new normal. We’ll also explore which industries could benefit the most from this technology.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT consists of devices with sensors, software, and other technologies that collect data. Connected to the Internet, these devices can transmit and exchange data with other devices and systems. The data is then captured, stored, and analyzed, giving companies actionable insights from their assets, systems, and processes.

In its State of the Connected World 2020 Insight Report, the World Economic Forum divided IoT into three primary domains.

The possibilities and potential of IoT applications 

From remote patient monitoring to vaccine distribution, IoT has been crucial in the fight against COVID-19. The pandemic will end, but we might have to live with this virus forever. As society moves forward to the new normal, here are several industries that can expect big gains from IoT.


In December 2019, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) helped a Toronto-based artificial intelligence (AI) platform identify COVID-19 a week before announcements from international health organizations. More than a year later, overburdened and understaffed healthcare facilities around the world continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

IoT can combat challenges in patient care, asset management, supply chain inefficiencies, and operational costs. With the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), healthcare facilities gain invaluable data on patients, staff, facilities, and assets. This helps doctors make smarter, data-driven medical decisions for their patients. With wearables and mobile devices, patients can take greater control of their health. A connected and collaborative healthcare ecosystem will enable healthcare providers to deliver predictive, preventative, personalized, and participatory medicine.

(Also read: How the Internet of Medical Things Can Revolutionize Healthcare)


Plants, machines, equipment, and other vital components can be equipped with sensors capable of conveying vast amounts of data through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). “By aggregating their data in the cloud, companies get real-time data for remote oversight, aggregated and comparative intelligence across global factories, suppliers, and business units, and the ability to leverage technologies to solve pressing problems,” says Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, CEO and Founder of Instrumental.

Innovative technologies can keep manufacturing floors safer. Equipped with sensors and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, smart PPE can gather information to keep employees safe and protected while also streamlining inventory management. 

​​IoT sensors monitor machine operation and productivity, sending this information to an AI platform for data analysis. This data gives manufacturers actionable insights on inventory, equipment performance and utilization, plant operations, and quality assurance--all while reducing the number of employees on factory floors.

Given all the clear benefits of IoT in the manufacturing sector, it comes as no surprise that experts predict the global manufacturing market size will reach USD  589.98 billion by 2028, registering a CAGR of 12.4% from 2021 to 2028.

(Also read: Industry 4.0: How to Make Manufacturing Future-Proof)

Smart Buildings

A smart building uses digital technologies to connect, control, automate, and analyze various resources and processes. These resources and processes include heating, lighting, ventilation, air conditioning, parking, and security. 

With the hybrid workforce becoming a reality for many companies, the importance of and demand for IoT in buildings will increase. To maintain a safe and healthy environment for its users, building owners and operators will harness IoT technology to enforce social distancing, monitor and track occupancy, ensure optimal ventilation, and automate sanitation and disinfection.  

(Also read: Smart Buildings Around the World)

Smart agriculture

Farms are the lifeblood of the human race, but they are also part of an industry that consumes enormous amounts of energy and water. Agriculture, forestry, and land-use change produce around 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, while over 70% of freshwater is used for agriculture.

The application of IoT solutions in agriculture can help change that. Known as smart agriculture, IoT applications in livestock and farming can lower costs and increase yields and resource efficiency through connectivity and actionable data insights. 

Equipped with sensors and cameras, agricultural drones are used for mapping, imaging, and surveying the farms. They can also be used for crop monitoring, agricultural spraying, fighting pests, and planting crops. With smart greenhouses self-regulating optimal microclimate conditions, farmers are no longer at the mercy of fickle weather. IoT sensors can monitor weather conditions, water content, crop growth, and other variables to optimize the different components of farming systems.

Business Insider Intelligence predicts that nearly 12 million agricultural sensors will be installed globally by 2023. An average farm generates 500,000 data points per day, and this figure is expected to grow to 4 million data points by 2036.

IoT applications in the agricultural sector can help increase food security as the world battles overpopulation, water scarcity, climate change, and a looming food crisis.

Watch this video to learn more about IoT in agriculture.

Smart cities

From contract tracing and social distancing to managing emergency and medical resources, cities face the challenge of effectively managing their citizens during this pandemic. IoT can help connect and centralize assets and crucial data sources, enabling cities to make real-time, data-informed decisions to ensure the health and safety of their residents.

In smart cities, sensors can monitor public transportation usage, city asset tracking, outdoor surveillance, and medical resources.

“Many of the changed requirements and behaviors by the pandemic (such as touchless, safety-oriented, community resilience, etc.) will persist even when the crisis wanes,” according to a report from Gartner quoted by IoT World Today. “This will drive IoT deployment in smart cities but won’t change the long-existent challenges when cities look to scale up these deployments . . . [as] technical complexity and immaturity, security or privacy challenges and integration challenges are the biggest barriers in scaling IoT activities.”

(Also read: Smart Cities: A Better Way to Live)

Opportunities and challenges in IoT

In 2020, for the first time, there were more IoT connections than there were non-IoT connections.

By 2025, market research firm IoT Analytics expects that there will be more than 30 billion IoT connections, almost four IoT devices per person on average. 

IoT has the potential to revolutionize how we live, work, and learn. But like every major technology innovation, it also introduces new challenges and potentially negative impacts. The pervasiveness, scalability, and high value of IoT, combined with its rapid pace of innovation and deployment, raises concerns about privacy, governance, security, and widening the digital divide.

As IoT becomes indispensable in our daily lives, it has the power and potential to improve our quality of life, optimize businesses, and enhance public services and operations. But with that power comes great responsibility. All stakeholders-- from consumers and enterprises to industry players and the government--must collaborate to ensure transparency, trust, security, and equal access. Technology can help us solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, but only if we work together.

As one of the Top 21 EMS companies in the world, IMI has over 40 years of experience in providing electronics manufacturing and technology solutions

We are ready to support your business on a global scale.

Our proven technical expertise, worldwide reach, and vast experience in high-growth and emerging markets make us the ideal global manufacturing solutions partner. 

Let's work together to build our future today.

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