Electrical industry in pole position to fuel the IoT revolution

Noun: Internet of things

A development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.

by Debbie Eales, Editor


I’m a great fan of plain English, so, when I first heard about “the Internet of Things” – it left me scratching my head as I wondered: “What ‘things’?” When the phrase appeared in a press release a while back, I had to ask the PR executive what, exactly, she meant. And even she had difficulty explaining.

But the concept is pretty simple, as the explanation at the top of this page confirms. And the possibilities and opportunities for the electrical industry are massive.

Recently, electrical industry leaders – including Schneider Electric, Osram, ABB, Philips and Legrand – met in London at a roundtable organised by Voltimum, the global digital media company and sales enabler for the electrical industry.

What emerged is that the Internet of Things will create millions of job opportunities worldwide, pouring cold water on speculation that automation could cause massive job redundancies.

Tanuja Randery, President UK&I at Schneider Electric said that the IoT won’t work without human interaction of some kind. While Tony Greig, CEO UK&I at Legrand, cautioned that while many contractors will embrace the new technology, those who don’t will fall by the wayside.

The cost of smart homes technology will inevitably come down, and contractors should be actively promoting it to their customers, it was agreed.

But a key ingredient in the success of the IoT will be the establishment and implementation of standards that ensure the market progresses securely. Timon Rupp, from Osram, said that it was a requirement of the industry to provide education.

Industry bodies and trade associations must also play their part in ensuring that standards and regulations are in place. Gerry O’Donnell, from Philips, said: “Ultimately whatever we put in has to work; our brand names rest on that and the markets will be the judge of it. Trade associations have a part to play on evolving regulations, and they will organise standard protocols.”

Voltimum CEO Wolfgang Schickbauer summed it up when he said: “From this position at the forefront of the industry we need to ensure we maximise the potential of IoT, and to do that we must support our community of electrical professionals to help them understand the opportunities that digitalisation offers and how they can seamlessly integrate it.”