The Internet of Things | BCBusiness

The Internet of Things | BCBusiness

A new survey reveals Canada is behind the times, as usual

The so-called Internet of Things (IoT)—technology that connects everyday objects, from your car to your fridge, to the Internet—is going to be huge. Problem is, Canadian businesses aren’t cashing in.

That’s according to a new report from the International Data Corporation, which found that only six per cent of Canadian firms have implemented IoT technology, while another seven per cent are planning to do so this year. Beyond 2014, the picture gets a little rosier: 30 per cent of Canadian businesses plan to get the ball rolling within two years.

So what does IoT look like in a professional setting? That depends on the sector. In retail, it could be a wireless point-of-sale device; in the oil and gas industry, the ability to remotely monitor field equipment.

One industry that’s been an early adopter is transportation. Take Arrow Transportation Systems, a Vancouver-based trucking company. Arrow worked with telecommunications giant Telus, which commissioned this latest report, to connect its fleet of vehicles to the Internet. “Transportation is a business with high variable costs,” explained Mitchell Zulinick, Arrow’s COO, in a press release. By collecting and analyzing data in real-time, the company “realized a savings of eight per cent on fuel costs alone.”

The potential upside of IoT is far-reaching, indeed. If we’re to believe Cisco’s estimate from earlier this year, the IoT industry will be worth $19 trillion worldwide—yes, trillion—by 2022. In Canada, the number is expected to reach $500 billion in that timeframe.

Of course, Canadians have a bad reputation when it comes to adopting new technology in the name of efficiency. For years, the Conference Board of Canada has been warning us that our productivity growth lags behind that of other industrial nations—and that our incomes are suffering as a result.

Perhaps, then, the IDC’s latest survey should come as no surprise, but as a warning. Companies need to start looking at how IoT technology can reshape, more efficiently, the way we operate.

“IoT can not only increase productivity; it can enable entirely new business models,” said Tony Olvet, group vice president of research at IDC Canada, in a release. “The alternative is to fall behind global innovators that are already utilizing new applications to creatively reinvent their industries.”