Exploiting tiny amount of data is big business for IoT firms
As the much-hyped next wave of IT solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT) can, in theory, create a huge number of opportunities for Irish exporters across sectors. Over the last three years, however, it has become clear that, while IoT projects generate huge amounts of data, that is not always an advantage - 99pc of data generated by IoT technologies is useless and 99pc of the remaining 1pc may potentially be useful but value cannot be extracted in a meaningful way.
Can the remaining 0.01pc actually make a difference to a business?
IoT is the slightly grandiose moniker given to a collection of technologies and equipment that connects things, as opposed to people, over the internet. An IoT project usually involves sensors, cloud, connectivity, and lots of data and analytics. There the futuristic pitch ends, as many IoT applications are more practical than first impressions might suggest.
One of the most prominent Irish early movers in the area is Davra Networks. "IoT simply means connecting assets that have not been connected before in order to tell management what is happening in their business," said chief executive Paul Glynn.
All Irish exporters active in IoT must ensure that the data they generate belongs to that crucial 0.01pc. Many companies working in IoT sell on a Software-as-a-Service monthly subscription model. If the data generated is not moving the dial for clients, monthly payments will soon stop, and the large upfront costs incurred at the beginning of a project written off.
A number of Irish companies have found innovative ways to make themselves essential by delivering that 0.01pc of meaningful data, saving lives and securing energy along the way.
Davra Networks has implemented a potentially life-saving solution for a Mexican mining company. Mines contain reservoirs of water to help minimise dust. If those reservoirs overflow, lives are lost.
Davra's platform monitors reservoirs and builds in local weather data, opening pumps to prevent floods. "We build a digital twin of the reservoir - a digital version of a physical asset that changes the way it acts in the real world," said Glynn.
A second fast-growing Enterprise Ireland-supported company active in the space is Asavie, which works with some of the world's leading mobile network operators (including AT&T and Telefonica) and hardware manufacturers (including Dell and MultiTech).
Asavie makes secure connectivity simple for thousands of businesses, notably in the energy sector. In a critical and highly-regulated sector such as energy supply, having visibility and control of communications at all times is essential. Asavie has helped a global energy intelligence management company to securely connect thousands of industrial companies to energy utilities in order to offer on-demand, real-time energy demand response services that do just that.
Beyond those examples is a wave of innovative Irish companies ready to capitalise on the anticipated explosion in demand for IoT technologies. Cubic powers the IoT strategy of global companies including Audi and Panasonic while Taoglas delivers world-class antenna technology, and Druid Networks uses cellular IoT technology to work on Sweden's zero car accident initiative, providing connectivity for high-speed trains, planes and container ports.
Analysts consider the IoT wave to be still in its early adopter stage, creating lots of potential for Irish companies, higher education institutes and the public sector to collaborate on the development of solutions.
Enterprise Ireland's IoT cluster works with Dublin's local authorities on the SmartDublin project and is exploring partnerships in areas including ports and harbours, search and rescue technologies, and drones.
The most important thing companies can do is focus on that 0.01pc of data that makes them essential while others succumb to the hype.
Robert Bushnell is senior development adviser in digital technologies at Enterprise Ireland
Sunday Indo Business