Fulfilling customers' needs under the "Internet of Things" (IoT) global technology trend has become a key mission for major technology companies.
Gregg Berkeley, Intel Corp's global IoT business-development sales director, said the US chip giant sees IoT as an evolution, with the company poised to drive business transformation by developing and integrating device-to-cloud IoT solutions to customers.
IoT involves small computing systems used in potentially everything - hence it is also known as the "Internet of Everything" - and the concept is all about data and analytics. Therefore, there are some key areas of concern when deploying IoT, he said, adding that the two main concerns were security and end-to-end architecture.
"Everything can be IoT. For example, HVAC [heating, ventilating and air-conditioning], lighting, lifts, digital signage and parking. Currently, IoT is in the early stage globally. In my opinion, IoT will be in the mature stage within the next couple of years," said Berkeley.
Intel provides end-to-end IoT systems for areas such as smart retail, smart manufacturing, smart building and smart-city initiatives, by working with partners.
IoT implementations are complex given the need to connect things to the cloud, manage and analyse data, and integrate with existing infrastructure, he said.
The top opportunities for IoT are retail, smart home and smart building, transportation, and the industrial and energy sectors, while smart city also has potential for investment and implementation of IoT.
'Smart city' potential
Intel forecasts that cities worldwide will spend US$41 trillion (Bt1.34 quadrillion] in the next 20 years on infrastructure upgraded for IoT.
According to IDC, by 2025, 37 cities will have populations of more than 10 million, with 22 in Asia alone. Meanwhile, Asia-Pacific smart-city investments by 2025 are estimated at around $1.04 trillion.
Cities are looking at ways to become smarter and more flexible in responding to citizens' needs, and leading smart-city opportunities are in transportation, building automation, and city sensing for such things as pollution monitoring, traffic and people flow.
Worldwide smart-city IoT spending will be $265 billion this year, with smart cities redirecting 15 to 20 per cent of traditional IT spending to the cloud.
IoT is expected to help the city become smarter, driving local economies, reducing costs, increasing efficiencies and creating new services.
Intel has joined hands with the US city of San Jose in working to further the city's "Green Vision" initiative with the use of the company's technology.
The project, part of what is known as "Smart Cities USA", is expected to help drive San Jose's economic growth, foster 25,000 clean-tech jobs, create environmental sustainability and enhance the quality of life for residents.
The pilot programme in San Jose is Intel's first smart-city implementation in the US, and is intended to improve air and water quality, reduce noise pollution, and increase transportation efficiency. The collaboration is being showcased as part of the "White House SmartAmerica Challenge".
The challenge is a "White House Presidential Innovation Fellow" initiative that aims to bring together research in cyber-physical systems and IoT and combine test beds, projects and activities from different sectors, including smart manufacturing, healthcare, smart energy, intelligent transportation and disaster response.
The goal of the "SmartAmerica Challenge" is to show tangible and measurable benefits to the US economy and the daily lives of American citizens.
Berkeley said Intel was currently engaging with between 20 and 30 worldwide partners on collaborations about the smart city with the implementation of Intel's IoT. Some of these are in Asia, as well as in London and Dublin.
According to IDC's "Government Insights", a successful smart-city programme needs to continually engage citizens and private entities to define the strategic direction and city priorities through a thoroughly planned technological enablement and assimilation.
Xiao Hu, general manager of the GE Software & Analytics Centre of Excellence, China, said GE has been working on the "Industrial Internet" for three years.
The Industrial Internet is the network and platform that connects machine and data in ways that enable customers to improve their efficiency and productivity, and involves many technologies, including the Internet, cloud computing and advanced technologies.
GE is working with partners in its eight businesses - power and water, energy management, oil and gas, GE Capital, healthcare, aviation, transportation, and home and business solutions - to drive the execution and development of the platform, and each industry's specific solutions and software, he said.
Predix is the US engineering giant's software platform for the Industrial Internet, connecting industrial assets from any vendor to the cloud, and to each other.
It can also be used as a platform to build apps for any industry or sector by customers, original-equipment manufacturers, and developers, he explained.
Predix will be made available to companies next year, allowing them to create and deploy their own customised industry apps at speed and scale to better manage the performance of their assets.
The Industrial Internet is expected to encourage many areas, including mobile, cloud computing, big data, [business] analytics, intelligent sensors, and operation technology security.
"The priority potential industries for the Industrial Internet are aviation, power and water, and healthcare," said Hu.
The Industrial Internet is expected to add $15 trillion to global gross domestic product in the next 15 years, he added.
The Industrial Internet is the combination of big-data analytics with the Internet of Things. It is producing huge opportunities for companies in all industries, but especially in areas such as aviation, oil and gas, transportation, power generation and distribution, manufacturing, healthcare and mining, according to GE and Accenture.
Cisco estimates that the Internet of Everything (IoE) could unleash up to $19 trillion of economic value to private and public-sector industries worldwide by 2022.
It is predicted that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020, creating amounts of data and innovation possibilities that will revolutionise the job landscape.
Cisco Networking Academy recently announced the first global IoE curriculum, which will help meet the soaring demand for ICT skills and empower the next generation of innovators to embrace the IoE's full possibilities.
The new curriculum is an important part of the US tech giant's efforts to close the broadening ICT skills gap and accelerate global IoE innovation.
"Introduction to the Internet of Everything" is the first of a series of IoE courses.
The entry-level course is aimed at anyone who wants to grasp the opportunities that the interconnection of people, processes, data and things will bring, and does not require any in-depth IT knowledge as a prerequisite.
It is available globally as a free self-learning course for every Cisco Networking Academy student. Academies can also create instructor-led classes to teach the curriculum.