The IoT: How smart organisations have an advantage in the Middle East

Phil Muncaster

Wednesday 20 April 2016

The IoT covers a vast array of intelligent, internet-connected devices. In fact, it can help organisations both from an internal productivity perspective and in customer-facing scenarios. But exactly how are IT leaders in the Middle East using these technologies to gain an advantage?

The Internet of Things (IoT) can mean different things to different people, but one thing they all agree on is that it’s revolutionising the way we live, work and play.

In the Middle East, the IoT has really taken off during the past year, defying a more general economic malaise in the region. In fact, according to analyst International Data Corporation’s (IDC) recent Middle East and Africa IoT spending guide, revenue spent on the technology is set to reach a staggering $1.8 billion in the Middle East by the end of the year, before increasing to $3.2 billion by 2019. It’s down to a combination of readily available technology solutions and a desire among governments and private enterprises to boost productivity, cut costs and – in the case of the private sector – gain that all-important competitive advantage.

Smart buildings

The Middle East has seen a huge increase in the number of smart buildings peppering its cities’ skylines of late. A recent report from Honeywell evaluating three key criteria – how green, safe and productive the buildings are – rated Doha and Dubai as the cities in the region with the smartest buildings, followed by Abu Dhabi.

The best approach is to design ‘intelligence’ into the building from the very start, considering things like light, air quality, security, and heat and motion-detecting sensors, with the goal of making its occupants safer, happier and more productive.

Intelligent transportation systems

The IoT market in intelligent transportation systems is expected to reach $143.93 billion by 2020, with the Middle East and APAC close behind market leader Africa. IDC analyst Jyoti Lalchandani recently wrote that freight monitoring, fleet management and air traffic monitoring are key activities in this sector of IoT innovation, with a focus on the “user experience, reducing costs, and mitigating risk, loss, and theft”.

Cleaner energy

A drive for clean energy and cost cutting has led to an increase in Smart Grid deployments. According to IDC, these investments will see IoT spending across utilities in MEA increase 14 per cent year-on-year in 2016, to $647.94 million.

With oil prices showing no signs of climbing anytime soon, governments and private enterprises look set to continue under the shadow of budget cuts and tightened spending. But that’s good news for IoT providers, who can help to meet greater demand for technologies that can help streamline processes, improve productivity and make service delivery more efficient.