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What are Smart Connected Systems and Why Should My Business Care? [Infographic]

smart connected systems infographic

By now you’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things or IoT. We’ve mentioned it in several of our previous posts.

But do you really understand what it is…and how you can expect to see it become a part of your life and business?

Postscapes collaborated with Harbor Research on an infographic to tell a more complete story about the Internet of Things. This infographic explains how “Smart, connected systems are a technological and economic phenomenon of unprecedented scale, encompassing potentially billions if not trillions of nodes — an Internet of infinite interactions and values…”

The Internet of Things – a Technological Phenomenon of Smart, Connected Systems

smart connected systems

What is the Internet of Things Comprised Of?

IoT smart systems are driven by a combination of:

  1. Sensors and Actuators
  2. Connectivity
  3. People and Processes

Sensors and Actuators

Sensors and actuators  create a digital ‘nervous system’ that can sense location, see and hear, and measure all kinds of things. The types of things that can be monitored include:

Ambient light via machine vision

  • Position, presence, and proximity
  • Motion, velocity, and displacement
  • Temperature
  • Humidity and moisture
  • Sounds and vibration
  • Chemicals and gasses
  • Flow of water and other liquids
  • Force, load, torque, strain and pressure
  • Leaks and water levels
  • Electric and magnetic forces
  • Acceleration and tilt


Connectivity takes digital inputs from sensors and actuators and places them on networks. The networks include:

  • Mobile networks (LTE, 4G, CDMA, etc.)
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • RFID
  • Powerlines
  • Ethernet
  • Area Networks including (PAN’s, LAN’s, MAN’s and WAN’s)

People and Processes

Networked inputs are combined into systems that integrate data, people, processes and systems to improve decision making. These inputs are currently being utilized to improve:

  • Location and tracking systems
  • Financial systems
  • Mobile devices and apps
  • Security and energy systems
  • Supply chain management
  • Control and automation systems
  • Remote monitoring and maintenance
  • Upgrades and configurations
  • Analytics and cloud/API based systems
  • Customer relationship and support systems

Sensors + Connectivity + People and Processes = Smart Applications and Services

Without even realizing it, many consumers have already integrated IoT into their lives via popular connected devices that are already on the market from forward thinking businesses. Some of the most popular include:

  • Smart thermostats like Nest that help consumers save money on heating and air conditioning bills by adapting to usage patterns automatically.
  • Connected cars like Car2Go and allow you to rent from your smartphone. Billing, parking and insurance are handled automatically.
  • Activity Trackers like FitBit that continuously capture heart rate, activity levels, calories burned and skin temperature.
  • Smart Outlets like those from Belkin that allows you to turn on or off any device or appliance and also track energy usage and receive notifications remotely.
  • Parking sensors like those from Streetline that allows users to identify real-time availability of parking spaces on their phones. These sensors also allow city officials to manage and price their resources based on actual use.

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Where Else Can You Find IoT Smart Connected Systems?

IoT applications are quickly advancing and can now be found in many diverse applications.

Home and Consumer Usage

  • Light bulbs
  • Security
  • Pet Feeding
  • Irrigation Controllers
  • Smoke Alarms
  • Refrigerators
  • Infotainment
  • Washer and Dryers
  • Stoves
  • Energy Monitoring

Transportation and Mobility

  • Traffic routing
  • Telematics
  • Package monitoring
  • Smart parking
  • Insurance adjustments
  • Supply chain
  • Shipping
  • Public transport
  • Airlines
  • Trains

Health and Body

  • Patient care
  • Elderly monitoring
  • Remote diagnostics
  • Equipment monitoring
  • Hospital hygiene
  • Bio wearables
  • Food sensors

Buildings and Infrastructure

  • HVAC
  • Security
  • Lighting
  • Electrical
  • Transit
  • Emergency alerts
  • Structural integrity
  • Occupancy
  • Energy credits

Related Post: What IoT Means for Retailers (You Have to See This)!

Cities and Industry

  • Electrical distribution
  • Maintenance
  • Surveillance
  • Signage
  • Utilities and smart grids
  • Emergency services
  • Waste management

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Even Smarter Connected Systems

Things are are going to get even more interesting as these connected devices and services are combined both within their own verticals and across industries. The infographic lays out several opportunities like:

  1. Combining health care and smart home technology to measure healthy activity levels, sleeping patterns and medication schedules for elderly people living alone. Alerts can go out to health care services and family members is abnormal activity is detected.
  2. Creating real-time service networks that integrate appliance monitoring, predictive maintenance, service technician CRM and recycling to improve efficiency

How Big is the IoT Market?

In 2014 nearly 2 billion connected devices will be shipped. This number is expected to grow to nearly 8 billion devices by the year 2020, not including mobile phones. The breakdown at that time is expected to be:

  • Home (consumer) devices: 3.7+ billion
  • Transport (mobility) devices: 392+ million
  • Body (health) 360+ million
  • Building (infrastructure) 1.7+ million
  • Cities (industry) 1.5+ billion

What is the Business Impact of Smart Connected Systems?

In 2014 IoT devices and applications produced $180+ billion in revenue:

  • $86+ billion in managed services including data and analytics, systems applications, mobile and cloud computing, and value-added application services.
  • $16+ billion for enablement hardware which is wireline or wireless modules attached to or embedded in each machine to be connected.
  • $77+ billion for network services.

The future revenue opportunities as stand-alone products and application markets increasingly become part of larger networked systems is expected to grow to over $1 trillion by 2020:

  • $571 billion for managed services
  • $42 billion for enablement hardware
  • $387 billion for network services

[Tweet “What are Smart Connected Systems and Why Should My Business Care? [Infographic] #IoT @alerttechinc”]

The IoT and Your Future

Your company must be prepared to adapt to the way the IoT will change the way people learn, work and innovate. IoT technologies are stretching the boundaries of today’s systems and creating a global nervous system.

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