PwC: IoT will become multitrillion-dollar market by 2020

The number of businesses adopting 'Internet of things' technology continues to grow

Companies have embarked on a gradual but massive adoption of "Internet of things" (IoT) technology, investing in sensors to collect data, which is then wirelessly sent for further analysis or alerts, according to a survey.

IoT involves hardware, like small devices and wireless networking, as well as software, but sensors are key for extracting data from objects and the environment, said PwC in the survey, released Monday.

"From refrigerators to parking spaces to houses, the IoT is bringing billions of things into the digital fold, which will make the IoT a multi-trillion dollar industry by 2020," PwC said in an executive summary of the survey.

Twenty percent of companies are investing in IoT sensors, up from 17 percent last year. The survey is based on responses from almost 1,500 company executives.

Fourteen percent of the respondents said sensors are of top strategic importance to their companies in the next three to five years.

The IoT concept has a wide scope, and is being applied to interesting projects. For example, AT&T researchers have developed "smart luggage" with an LTE and GPS chip that could help track bags at all times via smartphones and tablets. The city of San Jose, California, is installing a network of sensors to track traffic and air and noise pollution.

Sensors are important in providing "business intelligence" to customers, because the data gathered helps them make better, faster decisions, in areas like business processes, supply chain and customer experience. Sensors are most used in the energy and mining sector to detect carbon monoxide levels for worker safety, according to the PwC survey.

Use of sensors is also growing in power and utility companies, where smart meters measure power usage habits and report it back to companies so they can monitor usage trends and adjust power settings.

Sensors are used in cars for hands-free driving and driver safety, and in the manufacturing sector as endpoints to monitor and optimize machine usage in plants. In retail, sensors are used to collect supply chain data for predictive analytics, according to PwC.

The survey doesn't mention the retail sector's use of sensors to track customers. For example, Apple's iBeacon and Qualcomm's Gimbal hardware and software platform can be used to track customers in stores via smartphones and tablets to provide customized buying experiences.

Related:Chatswood Chase reveals customer insights from iBeacon trial

Sensors are least used in the financial sector, where telematics can be used to transmit data related to insurance claims, PwC said.

Chip makers like Qualcomm and Intel today offer packages with a range of sensors that help locate and identify product usage. IoT connectivity standards are also being established through recently formed organizations like AllSeen Alliance, which is led by Qualcomm and Microsoft, and Open Interconnect Consortium, which is led by Intel, Samsung and Dell.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags consumer electronicsemerging technologyhardware systemsComponentsPricewaterhouseCoopers

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?