Businesses must 'unleash' potential of IoT and connectivity for sustainable future

Data integration, transparency tracking and cross-sector collaboration are some of the areas where business leaders believe the Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity can drive a sustainable future.

The research notes the potential for new data monitoring technologies to increase the reliability of data flows and transparency of supply chains

The research notes the potential for new data monitoring technologies to increase the reliability of data flows and transparency of supply chains

These are the findings of a new report produced by Forum for the Future and consultancy Wipro, which outlines a future vision for IoT driven connectivity.

The report notes a current gap between awareness and action. Almost all (98%) industry experts surveyed believe data and connectivity will contribute to a sustainable world, however, only half reportedly use these technologies to support such efforts.

Forum for the Future founder director Jonathon Porritt said the report aims to provide ideas for companies to achieve a “not-too-distant future that is connected, sustainable and prosperous.”

“A brighter, fairer and more prosperous future for all is within reach if we can unleash the system change potential of IoT, data and connectivity,” Porritt said.

“It is up to every business and government body to decide whether they want to work within systems that are open, transparent, democratic, connected and collaborative - or stick to more isolated, closed ways of working that definitely do not help any forward momentum towards a more sustainable society.”

Reshaping landscapes

There are various barriers that must be overcome to boost connectivity, the report finds. These include security risks, lack of common tech standards, energy demand and electronic waste production.

In terms of the opportunities on offer, the report notes the potential for new data monitoring technologies to increase the reliability of data flows and transparency of supply chains. Data integration through the connection of various data sources can enable businesses to link silos and drive innovation, the study found.

Meanwhile, new technologies such as augmented and virtual reality are cited as effective tools to engage people with global challenges and put them in otherwise remote situations in terms of location and lifestyle.

“IoT, data and connectivity are changing the way we live and work – disrupting industries and reshaping the social landscape.” Wipro global head of IoT Jayaj Nair said.

"To ensure these advances have a positive impact on the future, grow our economies and drive sustainable efforts, we must successfully and efficiently harness these technologies.”

Unlocking benefits

IoT is seen by PwC as one of the ‘essential eight’ emerging technologies that reflect the development of increasingly autonomous, adaptive and connected machines, and the blurring of the physical and virtual world, all of which can unlock new benefits for business and sustainability.

The fourth industrial revolution looks set to introduce an era of technological disruption that will heighten the need for enhanced cross-sector collaboration to drive efficiencies, Vodafone's senior environment manager Nicki Woodhead recently told edie.

Vodafone has reached out to other sectors to acquire expertise that can provide benefits for the IoT technology. Last year, for example, Vodafone formed a new partnership with Philips Lighting which combines an IoT network with an integrated LED street light management system, which could see cities across the world slash energy use by 70%.

Philips Lighting believes that smart lighting systems can drive the circular economy, while Vodafone research found that 76% of surveyed businesses felt that IoT would be “critical” to their success.

George Ogleby 


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internet of things | technology

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