We are fast approaching a world where the majority of every-day electronic devices will use the internet to connect to, and interact with, each other. This technological evolution is called the Internet of Things, or IoT, and it will radically change how we live and work in Australia.

Technology has created endless commercial opportunities to develop new products and services that push boundaries. The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to take our understanding of customer experience and use of data even further. According to IoT Alliance Australia, the peak Australian IoT body, by 2020 the number of IoT connected devices globally is expected to be 30 billion, and this is forecast to grow to 100 billion by 2025. IoT systems and platforms will have a profound impact on multiple sectors of the economy for suppliers and consumers alike, and most relevant to us – energy!

Corporate business, construction, agriculture, retail and manufacturing will all be transformed by IoT. A simple example is the data gathered in food production which will be combined with logistical data to enable fresher, longer lasting shelf life produce. This will then be distributed more effectively to a broader range of people (and reduce excess production and food waste in the process).

These advances will most definitely have a major impact on the energy industry. Smart Meters, that collect digital data enabling electricity to be measured remotely by retailers, have already been employed in several Australian states. KPMG, in a recent report, predicts diversification of other ancillary IoT benefits ‘if a power and utilities business has a geographically dispersed network of IoT devices that measure environmental variables, there would be a real possibility that other businesses may see value in having access to that data.’

Geof Heydon, a Chair of IoT Alliance Australia, also predicts increased horizontal integration between the energy industry and related sectors.

“Electric cars connected to home chargers may provide energy back into the grid to help manage peak load, which is an example of the transport sector combining with the energy sector to do something different. Battery tech generally will have wider reaching effects on the energy sector - not just for electric cars. Disruptors will emerge to challenge the traditional business models. They already are,” said Mr Heydon.

Around the world, IoT technology is being embraced and adopted at an even more advanced level. In Japan, 34 million commuters use Tokyo’s Yamanote Line every day with the trains running at 2-3 minutes intervals from early morning until late at night. The schedule frequency and volume of passengers puts considerable strain on infrastructure and systems, but the introduction of IoT technology has enabled the control centre to receive and analyse huge amounts of real time data, making it possible to predict and avoid potential problems and failures in advance.

In Australia, data security is vitally important to progress IoT and we still have a way to go to get to the next wave of change, according to Mr Heydon.

To learn more about technological advancements in the energy industry, check out our Innovation and Tech section, and stay tuned for more pieces that discuss the impact and potential of IoT within Australia’s rapidly transforming energy sector.