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Unlocking the potential of the Internet of Things

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June 2015 | byJames Manyika, Michael Chui, Peter Bisson, Jonathan Woetzel, Richard Dobbs, Jacques Bughin, and Dan Aharon

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The Internet of Things—sensors and actuators connected by networks to computing systems—has received enormous attention over the past five years. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype, attempts to determine exactly how IoT technology can create real economic value. Our central finding is that the hype may actually understate the full potential—but that capturing it will require an understanding of where real value can be created and a successful effort to address a set of systems issues, including interoperability.

To get a broader view of the IoT’s potential benefits and challenges across the global economy, we analyzed more than 150 use cases, ranging from people whose devices monitor health and wellness to manufacturers that utilize sensors to optimize the maintenance of equipment and protect the safety of workers. Our bottom-up analysis for the applications we size estimates that the IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025. At the top end, that level of value—including the consumer surplus—would be equivalent to about 11 percent of the world economy (exhibit).

Achieving this kind of impact would require certain conditions to be in place, notably overcoming the technical, organizational, and regulatory hurdles. In particular, companies that use IoT technology will play a critical role in developing the right systems and processes to maximize its value. Among our findings:

Getting the most out of the Internet of Things

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MGI’s Michael Chui discusses how businesses could unlock trillions of dollars in value during the next decade.

  • Interoperability between IoT systems is critical. Of the total potential economic value the IoT enables, interoperability is required for 40 percent on average and for nearly 60 percent in some settings.
  • Currently, most IoT data are not used. For example, on an oil rig that has 30,000 sensors, only 1 percent of the data are examined. That’s because this information is used mostly to detect and control anomalies—not for optimization and prediction, which provide the greatest value.
  • Business-to-business applications will probably capture more value—nearly 70 percent of it—than consumer uses, although consumer applications, such as fitness monitors and self-driving cars, attract the most attention and can create significant value, too.
  • The IoT has a large potential in developing economies. Still, we estimate that it will have a higher overall value impact in advanced economies because of the higher value per use. However, developing economies could generate nearly 40 percent of the IoT’s value, and nearly half in some settings.
  • Customers will capture most of the benefits. We estimate that IoT users (businesses, other organizations, and consumers) could capture 90 percent of the value that IoT applications generate. For example, in 2025 remote monitoring could create as much as $1.1 trillion a year in value by improving the health of chronic-disease patients.
  • A dynamic industry is evolving around IoT technology. As in other technology waves, both incumbents and new players have opportunities. Digitization blurs the lines between technology companies and other types of businesses; makers of industrial machinery, for example, are creating new business models by using IoT links and data to offer their products as a service.
 The digitization of machines, vehicles, and other elements of the physical world is a powerful idea. Even at this early stage, the IoT is starting to have a real impact by changing how goods are made and distributed, how products are serviced and refined, and how doctors and patients manage health and wellness. But capturing the full potential of IoT applications will require innovation in technologies and business models, as well as investment in new capabilities and talent. With policy actions to encourage interoperability, ensure security, and protect privacy and property rights, the Internet of Things can begin to reach its full potential—especially if leaders truly embrace data-driven decision making.
About the authors

James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, and Richard Dobbs are directors of the McKinsey Global Institute, where Michael Chui is a partner; Peter Bisson is a director in McKinsey’s Stamford office; Jacques Bughin is a director in the Brussels office; and Dan Aharon is a consultant in the New York office.

THE INTERNET OF THINGS:
MAPPING THE VALUE
BEYOND THE HYPE
Copyright © McKinsey & Company 2015
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James Manyika | San Francisco
Michael Chui | San Francisco
Peter Bisson | Stamford
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JUNE 2015
THE INTERNET OF THINGS:
MAPPING THE VALUE
BEYOND THE HYPE
IN BRIEF
THE INTERNET OF THINGS:
MAPPING THE VALUE
BEYOND THE HYPE
The Internet of Things—digitizing the physical world—has received enormous attention. In
this research, the McKinsey Global Institute set out to look beyond the hype to understand
exactly how IoT technology can create real economic value. Our central finding is that the
hype may actually understate the full potential of the Internet of Things—but that capturing
the maximum benefits will require an understanding of where real value can be created and
successfully addressing a set of systems issues, including interoperability.
ƒƒ Viewing IoT applications through the lens of the physical settings in which these systems
will be deployed creates a broader view of potential benefits and challenges. Rather than
just analyzing IoT uses in vertical industries, we also look at settings, such as cities and
worksites. This shows how various IoT systems can maximize value, particularly when
they interact. We estimate a potential economic impact—including consumer surplus—of
as much as $11.1 trillion per year in 2025 for IoT applications in nine settings.
ƒƒ Interoperability between IoT systems is critically important to capturing maximum value;
on average, interoperability is required for 40 percent of potential value across IoT
applications and by nearly 60 percent in some settings.
ƒƒ Most IoT data are not used currently. For example, only 1 percent of data from an oil rig
with 30,000 sensors is examined. The data that are used today are mostly for anomaly
detection and control, not optimization and prediction, which provide the greatest value.
ƒƒ Business-to-business (B2B) applications can create more value than pure consumer
applications. While consumer applications such as fitness monitors and self-driving cars
attract the most attention and can create significant value, we estimate that B2B uses can
generate nearly 70 percent of potential value enabled by IoT.
ƒƒ There is large potential for IoT in developing economies. Over the next ten years, we
estimate higher potential value for IoT in advanced economies because of higher value per
use. However, nearly 40 percent of value could be generated in developing economies.
ƒƒ Customers will capture most of the benefits. We estimate that the users of IoT (businesses,
other organizations, and consumers) could capture 90 percent of the value that IoT
applications generate. For example, the value of improved health of chronic disease
patients through remote monitoring could be as much as $1.1 trillion per year in 2025.
ƒƒ A dynamic industry is evolving around IoT technology. Like other technology waves,
there are opportunities for both incumbents and new players. Digitization blurs the lines
between technology companies and other types of companies; makers of industrial
machinery, for example, are creating new business models, by using IoT links and data to
offer their products as a service.
To realize the full potential from IoT applications, technology will need to continue to evolve,
providing lower costs and more robust data analytics. In almost all settings, IoT systems raise
questions about data security and privacy. And in most organizations, taking advantage of
the IoT opportunity will require leaders to truly embrace data-driven decision making.
Where is the value potential
of the Internet of Things?
9 settings
Transform business processes
Predictive maintenance, better asset
utilization, higher productivity
Outside
Logistics and navigation
$560B−850B
Human
Health and
tness
$170B−1.6T
Worksites
Operations optimization/
health and safety
$160B−930B
Retail environments
Automated checkout
$410B−1.2T
Factories
Operations and
equipment optimization
$1.2T−3.7T
Home
Chore automation
and security
$200B−350B
Vehicles
Autonomous vehicles and
condition-based maintenance
$210B−740B
Offices
Security and
energy
$70B−150B
Cities
Public health
and transportation
$930B−1.7T
Enable new business models
For example, remote monitoring enables
anything-as-a-service
Types of opportunities
< 1% of data currently used,
mostly for alarms or real-time
control; more can be used for
optimization and prediction
gave us a cross-sector view
of a total potential impact of
$3.9 trillion–11.1 trillion
per year in 2025
Interoperability
required to capture
40% of total value
2X more value
from B2B applications
than consumer
Developing: 40%
Developed: 60%
Executive summary: Glasses man
© Getty Images
The Internet of Things has the potential to fundamentally shift the way we interact with our
surroundings. The ability to monitor and manage objects in the physical world electronically
makes it possible to bring data-driven decision making to new realms of human activity—to
optimize the performance of systems and processes, save time for people and businesses,
and improve quality of life (see Box E1, “Defining the Internet of Things”). From monitoring
machines on the factory floor to tracking the progress of ships at sea, sensors can help
companies get far more out of their physical assets—improving the performance of
machines, extending their lives, and learning how they could be redesigned to do even
more. With wearable devices and portable monitors, the Internet of Things has the potential
to dramatically improve health outcomes, particularly in the treatment of chronic diseases
such as diabetes that now take an enormous human and economic toll.
A great deal has been written about the Internet of Things in the past five years, including by
McKinsey, which began publishing its research on the emerging technology in 2010.1 IoTenabled
developments such as self-driving cars have captured the popular imagination, and
with fitness bands to monitor physical activity and Internet-connected devices to manage
HVAC systems, appliances, entertainment, and security systems, consumers are getting a
glimpse of what the IoT-enabled future may bring. Manufacturers, oil and gas companies,
and other businesses have already begun to see the initial payoff from IoT technologies in
their operations. And technology suppliers are ramping up IoT businesses and creating
strategies to help customers design, implement, and operate complex systems—and
working to fill the gap between the ability to collect data from the physical world and the
capacity to capture and analyze it in a timely way.
1 See, for example, “The Internet of Things,” McKinsey Quarterly, March 2010, and Disruptive technologies:
Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy, McKinsey Global Institute, May 2013.
Manufacturers, oil and gas companies, and other
businesses have already begun to see the initial
payoff from IoT technologies in their operations.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Box E1. Defining the Internet of Things
We define the Internet of Things as sensors and actuators connected by networks to
computing systems. These systems can monitor or manage the health and actions of
connected objects and machines. Connected sensors can also monitor the natural world,
people, and animals.
For the purposes of this research, we exclude systems in which all of the sensors’ primary
purpose is to receive intentional human input, such as smartphone apps where data input
comes primarily through a touchscreen, or other networked computer software where the
sensors consist of the standard keyboard and mouse.
2 McKinsey Global Institute Executive summary
We conducted this research to examine in detail how the Internet of Things can create
value, and in the process we have uncovered novel findings about how that value can be
captured by companies, people, and economies. Building on our earlier work, the McKinsey
Global Institute, in collaboration with McKinsey’s Telecommunications, Media, and High
Technology Practice and the McKinsey Business Technology Office, analyzed more
than 150 IoT use cases across the global economy. Using detailed bottom-up economic
modeling, we estimated the economic impact of these applications by the potential benefits
they can generate, including productivity improvements, time savings, and improved asset
utilization, as well as an approximate economic value for reduced disease, accidents, and
deaths. These estimates of potential value are not equivalent to industry revenue or GDP,
because they include value captured by customers and consumers.
An important contribution of this research has been to demonstrate the importance of
analyzing the applications of the Internet of Things in the context of settings—the physical
environments in which these systems are deployed, such as homes, offices, and factories.
A key insight from analyzing the benefits of IoT applications within settings is the critical
contribution made by interoperability among IoT systems. On average, interoperability is
necessary to create 40 percent of the potential value that can be generated by the Internet
of Things in various settings. We also see that making IoT applications interoperable—linking
a patient’s home health monitor to the hospital’s health informatics system, for example—is
a complex systems design challenge that requires coordination on many levels (technology,
capital investment cycles, organizational change, and so forth.
For the applications that we size, we estimate that the Internet of Things has a total potential
economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion per year in 2025. On the top end, the value
of this impact—including consumer surplus—would be equivalent to about 11 percent of
the world economy in 2025.2 Achieving this level of impact will require certain conditions to
be in place and overcoming technical, organizational, and regulatory hurdles. In particular,
organizations that use IoT technology will need better tools and methods to extract insights
and actionable information from IoT data, most of which are not used today. It will take
time for companies to create systems that can maximize IoT value and, more importantly,
for management innovations, organizational changes, and new business models to
be developed and implemented. This could lead to a new “productivity paradox”—a
lag between investment in technology and productivity gains that can be seen at a
macroeconomic level.3
Determining the settings where the Internet of Things will create impact
In reviewing nearly 300 IoT applications, we discovered that using only a conventional
approach to categorizing the potential impact by vertical industry markets—such as
automotive or consumer electronics—made it more difficult to analyze all the ways in
which value could be created. If we look at how IoT technology is creating value from the
perspective of the automaker, for instance, we would see how it improves manufacturing
efficiencies and reduces costs. However, by viewing IoT applications through the lens of
settings, we capture a broader set of effects, particularly those that require the interaction
of IoT systems and often produce the greatest impact. For example, by examining the
cities setting, we discover that not only can sensors in individual vehicles be used to save
2 Based on World Bank projection of $99.5 trillion per year in global GDP in 2025
3 The productivity paradox was observed by economists Robert Solow and Stephen Roach, who in 1987 noted
that despite the widespread adoption of computers to automate office functions, there was no evidence of
their impact on productivity. Subsequent research found problems in how government statistics measured the
impact of computers and a lag between investment in technology and the organizational adjustments required
to realize significant productivity gains. See Erik Brynjolfsson and Lorin M. Hitt, “Beyond the productivity
paradox,” Communications of the ACM, volume 41, issue 8, August 1998. See also US Productivity Growth
1995-2000, McKinsey Global Institute, October 2001.
$11T
Maximum potential
value of sized
applications in
2025
McKinsey Global Institute The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype 3
maintenance costs by predicting when maintenance is needed but we also see that sensors
can be linked to broader systems that help to manage traffic congestion across the city.
We have identified nine settings, capturing IoT use in environments such as homes, offices,
factories, worksites (mining, oil and gas, and construction), retail environments, cities,
vehicles, and the outdoors. We have also included a “human” setting for for systems that
attach to the human body and enable such health and wellness applications as monitoring
chronic disease or exercise, and productivity-enhancing applications such as use of
augmented-reality technology to guide workers in performing complex physical tasks
(Exhibit E1).
Exhibit E1
A “settings” lens helps capture all sources of value; we identify nine settings where IoT creates value
SOURCE: McKinsey Global Institute analysis
Setting Description Examples
Human Devices attached to or
inside the human body
Devices (wearables and ingestibles) to monitor and maintain
human health and wellness; disease management, increased
fitness, higher productivity
Home Buildings where people
live
Home controllers and security systems
Retail
environments
Spaces where
consumers engage in
commerce
Stores, banks, restaurants, arenas—anywhere consumers
consider and buy; self-checkout, in-store offers, inventory
optimization
Offices Spaces where
knowledge workers
work
Energy management and security in office buildings; improved
productivity, including for mobile employees
Factories Standardized
production
environments
Places with repetitive work routines, including hospitals and farms;
operating efficiencies, optimizing equipment use and inventory
Worksites Custom production
environments
Mining, oil and gas, construction; operating efficiencies, predictive
maintenance, health and safety
Vehicles Systems inside moving
vehicles
Vehicles including cars, trucks, ships, aircraft, and trains; conditionbased
maintenance, usage-based design, pre-sales analytics
Cities Urban environments Public spaces and infrastructure in urban settings; adaptive traffic
control, smart meters, environmental monitoring, resource
management
Outside Between urban
environments (and
outside other settings)
Outside uses include railroad tracks, autonomous vehicles (outside
urban locations), and flight navigation; real-time routing, connected
navigation, shipment tracking
4 McKinsey Global Institute Executive summary
Overall findings
Through our work studying individual use cases and estimating their potential economic
impact, we have developed insights into how the Internet of Things is likely to evolve.
These findings include perspectives on how the potential benefits of IoT technologies are
likely to be distributed among advanced and developing economies, how much IoT value
is likely to be created in business-to-business vs. consumer markets, and which players
in the value chain will capture the most value from IoT applications. We find that when IoT
systems communicate with each other, their value is multiplied, which makes interoperability
essential for maximizing benefits. Our research also generated findings about how the
industry that supplies IoT technology is likely to evolve. Our key findings:
ƒƒ Interoperability among IoT systems is required to capture 40 percent of the
potential value. In our analysis, of the total potential value that can be unlocked through
the use of IoT, 40 percent of this value, on average, requires multiple IoT systems to work
together. In the worksite setting, 60 percent of the potential value requires the ability to
integrate and analyze data from various IoT systems. Interoperability is required to unlock
more than $4 trillion per year in potential economic impact from IoT use in 2025, out of a
total potential impact of $11.1 trillion across the nine settings that we analyzed.
ƒƒ Most of the IoT data collected today are not used at all, and data that are used
are not fully exploited. For instance, less than 1 percent of the data being generated
by the 30,000 sensors on an offshore oil rig is currently used to make decisions. And of
the data that are actually used—for example, in manufacturing automation systems on
factory floors—most are used only for real-time control or anomaly detection. A great
deal of additional value remains to be captured, by using more data, as well as deploying
more sophisticated IoT applications, such as using performance data for predictive
maintenance or to analyze workflows to optimize operating efficiency. Indeed, IoT can
be a key source of big data that can be analyzed to capture value, and open data, which
can be used by more than one entity.4
ƒƒ The amount of IoT value that can be realized in developing economies is
comparable to that of advanced economies. Overall, over the next ten years, more
IoT value is likely to be created in advanced economies because of the higher value
associated with each deployment. However, the potential number of IoT uses is likely
to be higher in developing economies. The level of value in advanced and developing
economies will vary depending on setting, industry, and application. The applications
that drive the most value in developing economies differ from those in advanced
economies and, in some cases, because there are no legacy technologies to displace,
developing economies can “leapfrog” in IoT implementations. Nevertheless, we estimate
that 62 percent of the potential annual economic impact of IoT applications in 2025 will
be in advanced economies and that 38 percent will be in developing economies. The
higher value in advanced economies reflects higher wage rates and costs, which raise
the economic value of increased efficiency (Exhibit E2). As the values in developingeconomy
markets rise, the economic impact associated with IoT also will grow.
The high volume of estimated installations in developing economies reflects the shift of
global economic growth to those areas, which has important implications for companies
that compete in IoT equipment and service markets. China will be one of the largest
users of IoT systems in factories as well as in other settings. Countries with oil and
gas operations—among the most important early adopters of IoT—will also be major
geographic markets.
4 See Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity, McKinsey Global Institute, May
2011, and Open data: Unlocking innovation and performance with liquid information, McKInsey Global
Institute, October 2013.
McKinsey Global Institute The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype 5
ƒƒ B2B applications of IoT have greater economic potential than consumer
applications. Consumer uses of IoT technology have garnered a great deal of attention,
thanks to media coverage of fitness monitors and home automation. While these
applications do have tremendous potential for creating value, our analysis shows that
there is even greater potential value from IoT use in business-to-business applications. In
many instances, such as in worksite applications (mining, oil and gas, and construction),
there is no direct impact for consumers. A great deal of additional value can be created
when consumer IoT systems, such as connected consumer health-care products, are
linked to B2B systems, such as services provided by health-care providers and payors.
Exhibit E2
More value from IoT could be created in advanced economies, but the number of deployments
could be higher in the developing world
SOURCE: McKinsey Global Institute analysis
%
NOTE: Numbers may not sum due to rounding.
Settings Reasons for different levels of impact
77
71
75
57
54
63
62
56
62
89
38
44
38
37
46
43
25
29
23
11
Total
Outside
Home
Human
Cities
Factories
Worksites
Offices
Retail
environments
Vehicles
Advanced Developing
Higher adoption in advanced economies
outweighs larger number of developing
economy deployments
Transportation/shipping spending higher
in advanced economies
Higher costs in advanced economies
Higher costs and wages in advanced
economies raises value of impact
Health-care spending in advanced
economies is twice that in developing
economies
More autonomous vehicles in advanced
economies, but larger number of cities
and populations in developing markets
Higher values in advanced economies
outweighs higher number of emerging
market households
Higher adoption and values in advanced
economies, but large number of retail
settings in developing markets
Larger investments in automation in
advanced economies but large number
of factories in emerging markets
6 McKinsey Global Institute Executive summary
ƒƒ Users of IoT technologies will capture most of the potential value over time. As
in other technology markets, the end customer ultimately captures the most value, we
find. Eventually, we estimate that customers (such as factory owners using machines
guided by IoT technology, operators of transportation fleets, and consumers) will capture
upwards of 90 percent of the value opportunities IoT applications generate. In many
settings, customers will capture value in both direct and indirect ways, such as being
able to buy more efficient machinery that is designed using IoT data from older products
in use. Of the value opportunities created by the Internet of Things that are available to
technology suppliers, in general the largest share will likely go to services and software
and less will likely go to hardware.
ƒƒ The Internet of Things will change the bases of competition and drive new
business models for user and supplier companies. The Internet of Things will
enable—and in some cases force—new business models. For example, with the ability
to monitor machines that are in use at customer sites, makers of industrial equipment
can shift from selling capital goods to selling their products as services. Sensor data
will tell the manufacturer how much the machinery is used, enabling the manufacturer
to charge by usage. Service and maintenance could be bundled into the hourly rate, or
all services could be provided under an annual contract. The service might also include
periodic upgrades (software downloads, for example). Performance from the machinery
can inform the design of new models and help the manufacturer cross-sell additional
products and services. This “as-a-service” approach can give the supplier a more
intimate tie with customers that competitors would find difficult to disrupt.
For suppliers of IoT technologies, the choice of business model is complex. The
industry is at an early stage, and what constitutes competitive advantage and
successful business models will evolve. As in other technology markets, such as
personal computers and the Internet itself, there could be three phases. In the first,
“arms suppliers” succeed by providing the building blocks of the infrastructure—the
microprocessor or the operating system in personal computers, for example. In the
second phase, companies build broadly scaled applications, such as online search
on the Internet. In the third phase, companies build adjacent businesses, such as
e-commerce on the Web. At the current stage in the evolution of the IoT industry, the
complexity of IoT systems, the limited capabilities of many customers to implement them,
and the need for interoperability and customization, provide opportunities for hardware,
software, and service providers (installers, systems integrators, and so on) to provide
“end-to-end” IoT solutions to meet specific needs. Over time, more “horizontal” platforms
might emerge. For IoT technology suppliers, the bases of competition will likely include
distinctive technology, distinctive data, software platforms, and the ability to provide
complete solutions. At different levels of technology (within the “technology stack”), we
expect the division of value among players will shift over time, with an increasing share
going to suppliers of software and analytics.
Estimated potential impact of IoT applications in 2025
We set out to measure the impact of the Internet of Things using a bottom-up approach.
Our goal was to gauge impact from the perspective of the entire value chain (businesses,
consumers, suppliers, and governments). We have looked at a wide range of application
types, including operations, sales enablement, product development, and safety and
security—viewing applications through the perspective of the physical settings where they
are used.
$3.7T
Maximum potential
value of IoT in the
factories setting
McKinsey Global Institute The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype 7
Based on a range of IoT adoption rates, economic and demographic trends, and the likely
evolution of technology over the next ten years, we estimate that the economic impact
of IoT applications could be from $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion per year in 2025. Where the
actual impact falls on that range will depend on a number of factors, including declining
costs of technology and the level of acceptance by consumers and workers. Our estimates
are based on applications that we have sized in nine settings (other applications could
increase the total amount of value created). Of these settings, we estimate that factories are
likely to have the greatest potential impact from IoT use—as much as $3.7 trillion per year
(Exhibit E3). The next-largest setting in terms of potential impact would be cities, where IoT
applications have the potential for an impact of as much as $1.7 trillion per year in 2025.
Exhibit E3
Potential economic impact of IoT in 2025, including consumer surplus, is $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion
SOURCE: McKinsey Global Institute analysis
1 Includes sized applications only.
NOTE: Numbers may not sum due to rounding.
Settings
Outside
70–
150
Human
210–
740
Cities
Worksites 160–
930
Factories
Offices
930–
1,660
Vehicles
1,210–
3,700
410–
1,160
Home
Retail
environments
560–
850
200–
350
170–
1,590
Major applications
Size in 20251
$ billion, adjusted to 2015 dollars
Total = $3.9 trillion–11.1 trillion
Monitoring and managing illness, improving
wellness
Operations optimization, predictive
maintenance, inventory optimization, health
and safety
Organizational redesign and worker
monitoring, augmented reality for training,
energy monitoring, building security
Public safety and health, traffic control,
resource management
Operations optimization, equipment
maintenance, health and safety, IoTenabled
R&D
Energy management, safety and security,
chore automation, usage-based design of
appliances
Condition-based maintenance, reduced
insurance
Automated checkout, layout optimization,
smart CRM, in-store personalized
promotions, inventory shrinkage prevention
Logistics routing, autonomous cars and
trucks, navigation
Low estimate High estimate
8 McKinsey Global Institute Executive summary
ƒƒ Human. Two types of IoT technology applications fall under the human setting. The first
category is health and fitness. The second set—human productivity—involves using IoT
technology to improve performance in the workplace.
IoT has potential for transformative change in human health. Using connected devices
to continuously monitor patients as they live their lives—particularly those with chronic
conditions such as diabetes—the Internet of Things can improve patient adherence to
prescribed therapies, avoid hospitalizations (and post-hospitalization complications),
and improve the quality of life for hundreds of millions of patients. This could have an
economic impact of $170 billion to $1.6 trillion per year in 2025. Use of IoT systems could
enable societal benefits worth more than $500 billion per year, based on the improved
health of users and reduced cost of care for patients with chronic diseases.
Human productivity applications include use of augmented-reality devices such as
goggles through which data can be displayed to guide the performance of factory
workers. The goggles would present information such as instructions for physical
tasks, which would appear to float in in the worker’s field of vision, allowing the worker
to refer to the correct procedures without having to find a computer terminal. Using
IoT data, companies can also redesign jobs and processes for greater efficiency
and effectiveness. And IoT technology can help mobile workers in the field to stay
connected and work more effectively. Together these applications could have an impact
of $150 billion to $350 billion globally in 2025 (we have included the size of the human
productivity benefits in the settings in which they can be achieved).
ƒƒ Home. A wide range of IoT devices and applications are emerging for use in the home,
including connected thermostats, smart appliances, and self-guided vacuum cleaners.
As these devices evolve, we expect that the greatest economic impact from the Internet
of Things in the home will be in chore automation, which we estimate can cut 100 hours
of labor per year for the typical household. That could be worth nearly $135 billion
globally in 2025. The next-largest impact would come from energy management (up to
$110 billion per year), followed by security, which would have an impact of more than
$20 billion per year, based on injuries and deaths avoided. In total, we estimate that IoT
applications in the home could have an economic impact of $200 billion to $350 billion
per year in 2025.
ƒƒ Offices. We define offices as the physical environments in which knowledge work is
the primary activity. Key benefits of IoT use in office settings are in security and energy
management. By using digital security cameras with advanced image-processing
capabilities, operators of office buildings can monitor activity throughout their properties
without requiring guards to patrol or continuously monitor video feeds. We estimate that
IoT-based energy management in offices could cut energy use by 20 percent. Altogether
office IoT applications could have an economic impact of $70 billion to $150 billion per
year in 2025.
ƒƒ Factories. This setting is one of the largest sources of value from the adoption of the
Internet of Things, potentially generating an economic impact of $1.2 trillion to $3.7 trillion
per year. We define factories in the broadest sense to include all standardized production
environments. Therefore, our estimates include the benefits of IoT use in hospitals and in
agricultural settings, as well as in manufacturing facilities. In the factories setting, value
from the Internet of Things would arise chiefly from productivity improvements, including
10 to 20 percent energy savings and a 10 to 25 percent potential improvement in labor
efficiency. Improvements in equipment maintenance, inventory optimization, and worker
health and safety are also sources of value in factories.
McKinsey Global Institute The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype 9
ƒƒ Worksites. We define worksites as custom production environments, such as mines,
oil and gas extraction sites, and construction sites. Leading companies that operate in
worksite settings have been early adopters of IoT technology. A typical oil drilling platform
today might use 30,000 sensors, watching over the performance of dozens of systems.
In mining, self-driving vehicles, including mine cars and ore trucks, are helping to
streamline operations and reduce costs (Exhibit E4). Overall, improvements in operations
from IoT applications could be worth more than $470 billion per year in 2025 in worksites.
The second major source of value—potentially more than $360 billion per year—would
be improved equipment maintenance. Using sensors to monitor the health of machinery
in use, companies can shift to a condition-based maintenance model (maintaining
equipment when there is an actual need through predictive analytics) rather than relying
on a regular maintenance schedule or repairing equipment only when it breaks down.
Companies can also improve human health and safety by using the Internet of Things.
In total, we estimate that IoT in the worksites setting can have an economic impact of
$160 billion to $930 billion per year in 2025.
ƒƒ Vehicles. In the vehicles setting, we assess the potential for IoT to monitor and improve
the performance of planes, trains, and other vehicles while in use, which could generate
$210 billion to $740 billion per year in IoT impact for this setting in 2025.
ƒƒ Cities. Cities have become the locus of a great deal of innovation and experimentation
with IoT technology, through so-called smart city initiatives. Since cities are the engines
of global economic growth—the 600 largest cities in the world are expected to generate
65 percent of global GDP growth through 2025—the impact of IoT technologies can be
substantial.5 Specifically, we examined how cities can benefit from the Internet of Things
in four areas: transportation, public safety and health, resource management, and
service delivery. Transportation is the largest application and includes IoT-based systems
to manage traffic flow and autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars). For example, there
is great economic potential in the use of IoT that could come from adjusting commuting
schedules based on actual tracking data of public transit systems (buses and trains). Up
to 70 percent of commuting time today is “buffer time”—the extra time between when
the rider arrives at a stop or station and when the bus or train actually leaves. Reducing
the buffer in cities across the world could provide time savings equivalent to more than
$60 billion per year. In total, IoT transportation applications could be worth more than
$800 billion per year to cities around the world. The next-biggest impact would be
in public health—up to nearly $700 billion per year, mainly from air and water quality
improvements that would reduce lives lost to pollution. Using IoT smart meters to reduce
loss of electricity in distribution and sensors to detect water leaks could be worth as
much as $69 billion per year globally. Overall, we estimate that IoT application in the cities
setting could have an economic impact of $930 billion to $1.6 trillion per year in 2025.
ƒƒ Outside. The outside setting captures uses of IoT technology outside all of the other
settings; that is, those that take place outdoors between urban environments. For
example, it includes use of IoT to improve the routing of ships, airplanes, and other
vehicles between cities using advanced navigation informed by various sensors. This
also includes using the Internet of Things to track containers and packages in transit.
We estimate that these applications could have an economic impact of $560 billion to
$850 billion per year in 2025.
5 See Urban world: Cities and the rise of the consuming class, McKinsey Global Institute, June 2012.
10 McKinsey Global Institute Executive summary
MOBILE
EQUIPMENT
EMPLOYEES
PROCESSING PLANT
CONSUMABLES
ORE IN TRANSPORT
HEALTH AND
SAFETY
Real-time tracking of workers and equipment to issue alerts when they move into
areas where injury or exposure to harmful substances could occur
PRE-SALES
ENABLEMENT
Based on usage data, equipment suppliers can suggest more appropriate models
or cross-sell additional equipment
IOT-ENABLED
R&D
With actual usage data generated by IoT-enabled equipment, suppliers can
develop new components to avoid specific failures and eliminate unused features
OPERATIONS
MANAGEMENT
Use IoT to centrally or remotely optimize operations, including use of remotely
controlled autonomous vehicles
CONDITION-BASED
MAINTENANCE
Through continuous monitoring, determine when maintenance will be needed,
saving on routine maintenance costs and avoiding failures
MACHINERY
How IoT can improve performance
at mine sites
SOURCE: McKinsey Global Institute analysis
Exhibit E4
McKinsey Global Institute The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype 11
Enablers and barriers
For the Internet of Things to deliver its maximum economic impact, certain conditions would
need to be in place and several obstacles would need to be overcome. Some of these
issues are technical. Some are structural and behavioral—consumers, for example, need to
trust IoT-based systems, and companies need to embrace the data-driven approaches to
decision making that IoT enables. In addition, regulatory issues need to be resolved, such as
determining how autonomous vehicles can be introduced to public roadways and how they
will be regulated and insured.
ƒƒ Technology. For widespread adoption of the Internet of Things, the cost of basic
hardware must continue to drop. Low-cost, low-power sensors are essential, and
the price of MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) sensors, which are used
in smartphones, has dropped by 30 to 70 percent in the past five years. A similar
trajectory is needed for radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and other hardware
to make IoT tracking practical for low-value, high-volume items in package delivery
and retailing. Progress in inexpensive, low-cost battery power is also needed to keep
distributed sensors and active tags operating. In almost all applications, low-cost data
communication links (both short distance and long distance) are essential. For IoT users
to get the most out of their data—and to use more data—the cost of computing and
storage must also continue to drop, and further development will be needed in analytical
and visualization software.
ƒƒ Interoperability. As noted, the ability of IoT devices and systems to work together is
critical for realizing the full value of IoT applications; without interoperability, at least
40 percent of potential benefits cannot be realized. Adopting open standards is one way
to accomplish interoperability. Interoperability can also be achieved by implementing
systems or platforms that enable different IoT systems to communicate with one another.
ƒƒ Privacy and confidentiality. The types, amount, and specificity of data gathered
by billions of devices create concerns among individuals about their privacy and among
organizations about the confidentiality and integrity of their data. Providers of IoTenabled
products and services will have to create compelling value propositions for data
to be collected and used, provide transparency into what data are used and how they
are being used, and ensure that the data are appropriately protected.
ƒƒ Security. Not only will organizations that gather data from billions of devices need to be
able to protect those data from unauthorized access, but they will also need to deal with
new categories of risk that the Internet of Things can introduce. Extending information
technology (IT) systems to new devices creates many more opportunities for potential
breaches, which must be managed. Furthermore, when IoT is used to control physical
assets, whether water treatment plants or automobiles, the consequences associated
with a breach in security extend beyond the unauthorized release of information—they
could potentially cause physical harm.
ƒƒ Intellectual property. A common understanding of ownership rights to data produced
by various connected devices will be required to unlock the full potential of IoT. Who
has what rights to the data from a sensor manufactured by one company and part of a
solution deployed by another in a setting owned by a third party will have to be clarified.
For example, who has the rights to data generated by a medical device implanted in a
patient’s body? The patient? The manufacturer of the device? The health-care provider
that implanted the device and is managing the patient’s care?
30-70%
Drop in the price of
MEMS sensors in
past five years
12 McKinsey Global Institute Executive summary
ƒƒ Organization and talent. IoT combines the physical and digital worlds, challenging
conventional notions of organizational responsibilities. Traditionally, the IT organization
was separate and distinct from the operating organization that is charged with managing
the physical environment. In a retail store, for example, the IT function managed the
point-of-sale machine, but little else. In an IoT world, IT is embedded in physical assets
and inventory and directly affects the business metrics against which the operations are
measured, so these functions will have to be much more closely aligned. Furthermore,
companies not only need access to knowledge about how IoT systems work (on staff or
via a partner/supplier relationship), but they also need the capacity and mindset to use
the Internet of Things to guide data-driven decision making, as well as the ability to adapt
their organizations to new processes and business models.
ƒƒ Public policy. Certain IoT applications cannot proceed without regulatory approval.
The most obvious is self-driving cars. Even though this technology is evolving rapidly
and many auto and technology companies are investing in this area, it remains unclear
where and when self-driving cars will be allowed to operate. In addition, regulators must
establish rules about liability. Policy makers also often have a role to play in shaping
market rules that affect IoT adoption, such as creating appropriate incentives in health
care. Finally, government can play a role in setting rules for data practices regarding
collection, sharing, and use of IoT data.
Implications for stakeholders
In addition to its potential for enormous economic impact, the Internet of Things will
affect a range of organizations and individuals. There are important implications for all
stakeholders—consumers, IoT user companies, technology suppliers, policy makers, and
employees. In particular, the rise of IoT has implications for the technology industry, creating
new opportunities and risks for incumbents and new opportunities for rising players.
ƒƒ Consumers. IoT offers substantial benefits for consumers as well as a new set of risks.
IoT technology has the potential to drive down the costs of goods and services. And, as
we have seen in our sizing analysis, one of the most important sources of value will be
greater consumer convenience and time savings. As they travel, consumers will benefit
from IoT-managed roadways, self-driving cars, real-time public transit information, and
planes that land and take off on schedule. At home, they can offload housework to smart
appliances, save money on energy, and improve their health. However, privacy, already a
concern, will only grow as IoT applications spread. Consumers will need to be cognizant
of the data that are being gathered about them and how that information is used. When
consumers sign up for services, they should bear in mind what kind of data permissions
they are granting and push vendors for transparency. Given the additional value that
interoperability can unlock, consumers can take that into account as they consider
purchasing IoT systems. Finally, with all of the devices and services that IoT enables,
consumers might be overwhelmed by the proliferation of information and choices. When
As they travel, consumers will benefit from
IoT‑managed roadways, self-driving cars, real-time
public transit information, and planes that land and
take off on schedule. At home, they can offload
housework to smart appliances, save money on
energy, and improve their health.
McKinsey Global Institute The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype 13
data are plentiful, the scarce resource is attention. Finding ways to manage this potential
information overload will become increasingly necessary for consumers.
ƒƒ IoT user companies. The adoption of IoT-based systems has the potential to alter
the economics of many industries. Companies will need to decide when and how to
invest in the Internet of Things and will need to develop sufficient knowledge to make
smart investments. When corporate users have the knowledge to specify features, they
can demand interoperability in order to ensure they capture the full potential of these
technologies. Early adopters may have an opportunity to create competitive advantage
(through lower operating costs, the chance to win new customers, and greater asset
utilization, for example), but later adopters may be able to gain those benefits at a lower
cost. As IoT applications proliferate, investing in IoT is likely to become “table stakes” to
remain competitive. Ultimately, it may be the customers of companies that operate IoT
systems that capture the most value in the form of lower prices, higher quality, better
features, and improved service. Companies that use IoT in novel ways to develop new
business models or discover ways to monetize unique IoT data are likely to enjoy more
sustainable benefits.
ƒƒ Technology suppliers. The Internet of Things is a major opportunity for incumbent
technology suppliers as well as for emerging players. The market for IoT components
and systems grew 160 percent in 2013 and 2014, and could exceed 30 percent a year
through 2025. As in other technology markets, IoT markets will have a variety of players
and strategies. Some suppliers will compete by offering distinctive technology, while
others will have distinctive data. There are also companies that establish technology
platforms and those that specialize in offering comprehensive (“end-to-end”)
solutions. The opportunities to assume these roles vary by type of player. There will be
opportunities to create new business models, such as providing IoT-enabled machinery
as a service. There will be rising demand for vertical expertise to help companies
in specific industries incorporate IoT technology into their production and business
processes. Finally, technology suppliers will need to collaborate on standards, protocols,
and platforms to enable the interoperability that is essential for maximizing IoT benefits.
ƒƒ Policy makers. Policy makers will be called upon to create the regulatory framework
to enable some IoT developments such as autonomous vehicles. In addition, for IoT
applications to reach their full potential, issues in three areas—data privacy and usage,
security, and interoperability—must be resolved. In each of these areas, government
can play a role. The explosion of data about what companies and consumers are doing
that IoT systems will generate raises important concerns about privacy and the ways
in which data are used. Who has access and control over data will become a major
issue since many forms of data collection—license plate scanners to catch speeders,
for example—might not require consent. Governments can help to make choices about
data collection, access, and usage, especially for data that are generated in public
spaces. Policy makers can also help address security issues, by creating frameworks
for liability, for example. In addition, IoT applications could create national security risks
that have to be managed, given the nature of the data, the risks of IoT-controlled physical
assets, and the proliferation of access points for hackers to target. Finally, government
can play a role in developing standards that will enable interoperability of IoT devices
and systems—sometimes as a regulator, but also as a convener of stakeholders and a
purchaser of systems.
14 McKinsey Global Institute Executive summary
ƒƒ Employees. As with other productivity-improving technologies, IoT will affect workers in
different ways. The value of some types of knowledge workers is likely to increase since
the Internet of Things will create new needs for human judgment and decision making.
The impact on service workers will vary. Demand for workers in some services, such as
food preparation, office and home cleaning services, security, and retail checkout, could
fall as such tasks are automated, at least in high-wage economies. In general, manual
work will come under increasing pressure from IoT and smart machines, but IoT will
open up some new employment opportunities, too. Workers will be needed to install and
maintain the physical elements of IoT systems—sensors, cameras, transponders, and so
on. Other workers will be needed to design, develop, sell, and support IoT systems.
•••
The digitization of machines, vehicles, and other elements of the physical world is a
powerful idea. Even at this early stage, the Internet of Things is starting to have real impact.
The Internet of Things is changing how goods are made and distributed, how products
are serviced and refined, and how doctors and patients manage health and wellness. By
examining the proliferating uses of the Internet of Things in specific settings, we have been
able to estimate the magnitude of potential economic impact from IoT applications over
the next ten years. Capturing that potential will require innovation in IoT technologies and
business models, and investment in new capabilities and talent. With policy actions to
encourage interoperability, ensure security, and protect privacy and property rights, the
Internet of Things can begin to reach its full potential.

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