Top 10 IoT Applications in 2020

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Top 10 IoT Applications in 2020

In this article, take a look at the hottest application areas for IoT in 2020.

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What Are the Hottest Application Areas for the Internet of Things Right Now?

IoT Analytics continues to track in which verticals most IoT projects are happening. The latest 2020 analysis shows that most IoT projects still happen in Manufacturing/Industrial settings, with verticals such as Transportation/Mobility, Energy, Retail, and Healthcare having also increased their relative share in comparison to past analyses.

The 2020 analysis is based on 1,414 actual IoT projects that were explored as part of IoT Analytics' research tracking IoT platforms and the underlying data is included in the 2020 list of 620 IoT platforms. The fact that more than 1,000 publicly announced IoT projects now make use of an IoT platform highlights the importance and pervasiveness of IoT platforms in bringing IoT solutions to market.

This article discusses selected IoT projects in each of the 10 application areas, including 20 examples of recent projects - stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of the top IoT use cases and more structured industry-specific deep-dives in the coming months.

(Note: The research presented in this article is confined to IoT projects that make use of an IoT Platform and does not include any consumer-focused IoT projects such as smart home, wearable devices or hobby projects). 

Top 10 IoT Application Areas

( The analysis methodology has changed slightly compared to past IoT Application analyses - in the past IoT Analytics looked at all known IoT projects, this time, due to the fast growth in number of IoT projects, IoT Analytics confined the analysis to the projects performed in conjunction with one of the 620 known providers of IoT platforms.)

The 2020 analysis of the top IoT application areas shows that of the 1,414 public enterprise IoT projects identified, Manufacturing / Industrial settings are most common (22%), followed by Transportation / Mobility (15%) and Energy IoT projects (14%).

For reference, see the IoT Analytics IoT applications analysis 2015 here and the 2018 analysis here.

1. IoT Applications Area #1: Manufacturing/Industrial

1a. Overview

Manufacturing / Industrial has taken over the top spot from "Cities" - the number one IoT application area in the 2018 analysis. Technology giants such as Microsoft and AWS as well as large industrial automation players such as Siemens or Rockwell Automation are among the driving forces of the digital transformation in the manufacturing / industrial industry.

1b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

The industrial IoT application area covers a wide range of connected "things" projects both inside and outside the factory. For example inside, many IoT-based factory automation and control projects include holistic smart factory solutions with numerous elements such as production floor monitoring, wearables and Augmented Reality on the shop-floor, remote PLC control, or automated quality control systems. Typical outside the factory projects include remote control of connected machinery, equipment monitoring, or management and control of entire remote industrial operations such as oil rigs. Many of the case studies mention "reducing operational downtime and cost saving" as the key drivers for OEMs to introduce industrial IoT solutions.

1c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

Example 1: Howden Mixed Reality solutions. Howden, a Scottish manufacturer of air and gas handling solutions, turned to Microsoft and PTC to develop scalable mixed reality solutions that overlay real-time IoT data from connected products with 3D Augmented Reality experiences to provide step-by-step instructions on how to solve problems with the equipment. The solutions enable Howden's customers to reduce the challenges and costs associated with unplanned downtime and better-align overall maintenance strategies-which were previously based only on conjecture and after-the-fact analysis. These innovations ultimately save customers a significant amount of time and associated cost.

Example 2: Severstal Asset Performance. Severstal, a Russian steel manufacturer, turned to GE to reduce unscheduled maintenance delays with Predix Asset Performance Management. The solution enhanced equipment reliability by 20% by means of constantly improving strategies of maintenance, reducing the costs of repair and maintenance scheduling, effectively reallocating resources, and decreasing production risks.

2. IoT Applications Area #2: Transportation/Mobility

2a. Overview

Transportation / Mobility is the second largest IoT application area in 2020. Tesla set the industry benchmark for connected cars when it launched the Model S in 2012, introducing the first over-the-air software update capabilities. Since then pretty much every car manufacturer has followed suit integrating similar IoT technologies.

2b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Typical applications within Transportation/Mobility include telematics and fleet management solutions that connect with the local operating system within the car for vehicle diagnostic/monitoring such as battery monitoring, tire pressure monitoring, driver monitoring or simply vehicle tracking.

2c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

  • Example 3: KWRL real-time fleet monitoring. KWRL Transportation Co-op runs a large-scale school bus fleet in Washington state, USA and uses Samsara's wireless fleet tracking platform to coordinate routes and keep buses running on schedule. Real-time fleet monitoring supplies visibility into where buses are at any given moment, sensors track stop paddle and emergency light activation, engine fault code alerts are automatically decoded so team instantly determines criticality of faults, and complete route history is used to build smarter routes and plan fleet expansion.
  • Example 4: OmniBus fleet operations optimization. OnniBus.com is a leading long-distance bus service in Finland, building a more streamlined and sustainable transport operation with Telia's connected vehicle solution designed to optimize the operations of heavy equipment and reduce fuel consumption using real-time operating data.
  • Example 5: Caledonian driver behavior tracking. Caledonian Logistics, based in Aberdeen, Scotland, specializes in the movement of palletized goods and uses MyGeotab for fleet monitoring and tracking driver behavior. A fleet dashboard shows a lead table of drivers diagnostics making them fully accountable for their actions and raises alerts if any abnormal activity occurs.

3. IoT Applications Area #3: Energy

3a. Overview

As worldwide energy consumption is expected to grow by 40% over the next 25 years, the need for smarter energy solutions has reached an all-time high. IoT is revolutionizing nearly every part of the energy industry from generation to transmission to distribution and changing how energy companies and customers interact. Both solution providers and energy companies themselves understand the need for and value of connected IoT solutions in the sector.

3b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Energy accounts for 11% of the identified projects, up from 10% in 2018. The majority of projects focus on energy distribution, grid optimization, remote asset monitoring and management, predictive maintenance and creating more transparency for better informed customers.

3c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

4. IoT Applications Area #4: Retail

4a. Overview

More and more retailers recognize that they can improve their cost-efficiency and in-store customer-experience through innovative IoT use cases. There is a rising interest for retailers to digitize stores and create smarter processes - retail now accounts for 9% of the identified projects, up from 5% in the 2018 analysis.

4b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Typical IoT in retail solutions include in-store digital signage, customer tracking and engagement, goods monitoring and inventory management and smart vending machines among others.

4c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

5. IoT Applications Area #5: Cities

5a. Overview

Smart cities are growing and blossoming in all parts of the world. The IMD Smart City Index 2019, which focuses on how citizens perceive the scope and impact of efforts to make their cities smart - balancing "economic and technological aspects" with "humane dimensions", put Singapore, Zurich and Oslo as the top 3 smartest cities in 2019, followed by Geneva, Copenhagen, Auckland, Taipei, Helsinki, Bilbao and Dusseldorf completing the top 10. More and more cities continue to embrace the smart city concept from a citizen's perspective:

The percentage of smart city projects is down from the 2018 analysis for a number of reasons such as long tender timelines, long lead time to get smart city projects started, and the need to navigate city politics. The CEO of an IoT Platform start-up, for example, recently shared with IoT Analytics that " Sometimes, smart city tender timelines are so long that start-ups can't survive long enough to wait for the process to finish, so the process tends to be biased towards the largest vendors ".

5b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Typical IoT projects in Smart Cities include connected traffic (smart parking, traffic management), utilities (smart waste, lighting), public safety (video surveillance) and environmental monitoring (air pollution).

5c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

6. IoT Applications Area #6: Healthcare

6a. Overview

IoT has only slowly proliferated itself in healthcare. However, things look to be changing in light of the center of COVID-19 pandemic. Early data suggests that digital health solutions that relate to COVID-19 are surging. Demand for specific IoT health applications such as telehealth consultations, digital diagnostics, remote monitoring, and robot assistance is increasing. The pandemic has thrust the healthcare industry into the limelight and many C-suites are taking note:

6b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Typical healthcare IoT projects within hospitals/clinics include medical device monitoring, health team coordination, optimizing workflow operations while out-patient focused solutions include patient monitoring, assisted living, elderly care, and pain medication management among others.

6c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

7. IoT Applications Area #7: Supply Chain

7a. Overview

As supply chains extend more and more to the end customers, resulting in more intricate flows of goods that are more complex to deliver, logistics providers are increasingly integrating connected digital solutions to tackle the complexity. A recent survey by Kenco, a US logistics provider, found that 56% of supply chain professionals are currently or planning to invest in sensors/IoT; up from 42% in 2017, to look for more operational efficiencies in how their supply chains operate.

7b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Typical supply chain IoT projects include asset tracking, condition monitoring (e.g., cold chain, medical goods), inventory and storage management, automated guided vehicles, connected workers, among others. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of IoT tracking across the supply chain. Recent months have unfortunately shown the stark reality that even vital medical equipment and PPE can go out of stock as global supply chains are disrupted. This realization is expected to be a big driver for IoT tracking solutions in the supply chain to help companies stay in control, keep an overview, and react quickly.

7c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

8. IoT Applications Area #8: Agriculture

8a. Overview

In 2050, it is estimated that a population of almost 10 billion people will need up to 70 percent more food than we do today. One way to address this challenge is through smart agriculture. IoT sensors can help farmers make more informed decisions to achieve higher crop yield, better quality produce, and save costs by reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Some CEOs see IoT as the main source of disruption for the agriculture industry:

8b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Typical smart agriculture projects include precision farming, livestock monitoring, irrigation management, and automated drones for surveying farms, mapping fields, spraying crops, etc. Analysis of the case studies suggests that innovative technologies such as LPWAN are paving the way for Smart Agriculture's growth in the Internet of Things landscape. LPWAN supplies a range of features in terms of energy consumption and long-range transmission i.e., the main network requirements for key applications in the sector. LPWANs are ideal for gathering data about local agricultural conditions including weather, soil moisture, chemical compositions of the soil and other environmental conditions at a much lower total cost of ownership. Furthermore, LPWANs make it possible to expand per-acre coverage and monitor more assets due to the simplicity of deployment and cost of ownership reductions.

8c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

9. IoT Applications Area #9: Buildings

9a. Overview

As part of the 2019 Energy Efficiency Indicator study Johnson Controls surveyed 400 energy and facility management executives in the United States and found that 71 percent of organizations invested in smart building control system improvements and over half have implemented an enterprise-wide smart building management system. Most new innovative connected solutions aim to increase productivity and efficiency while reducing operational costs through complete building life cycle management.

9b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Typical connected building projects involve facility-automation and monitoring for building systems (HVAC, lighting, elevators, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers), building utilization and security (room use, access, surveillance).

9c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled projects

10. IoT Applications Area #10: Other:

10a. Overview

There are only a few (3%) projects that have been identified that are not part of the other 9 categories.

10b. Typical IoT Platform-enabled applications

Example IoT Platform-enabled projects in the Other area include those in hospitality, enterprise, finance, and sports.

10c. Selected IoT Platform-enabled project

Example 20: Cybex connected exercise equipment. "Our customers invest in our catalog of products for our reputation for developing innovative and reliable equipment that enhances human performance. We are furthering that reputation, and our customer's success, by offering an Internet-based monitoring system that helps owners maximize the benefit of our products." Lisa Juris, Chief Marketing Officer Cybex International. Cybex International offers premium exercise equipment used in fitness facilities worldwide. Gym owners regularly service their treadmills to ensure they stay up and running so Cybex developed a web-based asset management system to provide gym owners with real-time data on the status of each treadmill.


The data presented in this article is partially based on IoT Analytics research on IoT platforms, performed in Q4/2019. As part of a wider research project on IoT platforms, IoT Analytics mined the websites of 620 IoT platform vendors in regards to documented IoT case studies and aggregated the data for each segment to come up with the top 10 applications areas based on real IoT projects.

Scope: The research focused on enterprise IoT solutions that are either directly employed by enterprises or sold to enterprises, thus excluding consumer-only cases such as wearables, smart home or hobbyist projects.

The findings discussed in this article are derived from analysis of the List Of 620 IoT Platform Companies.

internet of things, iot, iot applications, iot projects

Published at DZone with permission of Padraig Scully , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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