The 6 Leading Industries for IoT Deployment

Profiling the six industries doing the most with IoT currently and where they're using it, as identified by IDC.

June 7, 2017

5 Min Read
Image of a garage with many cars

By Josh McAllister

From agriculture to retail, the internet of things is changing how companies in many industries do business.

According to a Gartner report, IoT adoption reached 43% of enterprises worldwide by the end of 2016. A 2015 IDC survey reported that 58% of organizations worldwide see the IoT as strategic to their business. Another 24% of organizations see it as transformational to their business.

In addition to changing business models and increasing output, the IoT is automating processes across a number of industries.

Some industries have been quicker than others when it comes to integrating IoT into their everyday operations. Here are the 6 leading IoT industries, compiled according to an IDC report.


No other sector has been more impacted by the IoT revolution than manufacturing. Manufacturers across all areas — durable goods, electronics, automotive, etc. — have invested heavily in IoT devices, and they are already experiencing the benefits.

TATA Consultancy Survey showed that manufacturers utilizing IoT solutions in 2014 saw an average increase of 28.5% in revenues from the previous year.

One concept that comes into play is smart manufacturing, the use of IoT devices to improve the productivity and efficiency of manufacturing operations. This typically involves the retrofitting of sensors to existing manufacturing equipment, and new manufacturing equipment coming with the IoT sensors pre-installed. Having sensors placed on factory equipment allows the collection of data about the performance of the machines and systems.

Many IoT solutions are still at a basic stage, but it is expected that manufacturers will eventually implement more advanced technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) tools and autonomous robots.


IoT solutions are being used in transportation to improve business in a number of ways, making an impact from supply chain logistics to public transit.

One example of such solutions is connecting shipping vehicles with sensors to monitor temperature, helping companies ensure that goods arrive in a safe condition — especially food. There is an also increasing number of freight and public transportation vehicles being equipped with sensors for purposes such as scheduling maintenance, training drivers, and optimizing fuel consumption.

By creating intelligent transportation systems in the future, the transportation authority will have the ability to monitor each vehicle's movement, and also predict future location and possible road traffic.

Much of the IoT spending in the transportation sector is driven by freight monitoring, which was at $55.9 billion in 2016. This represents the second largest IoT use case across all industries.


The utilities industry is another sector that invested heavily in IoT solutions. Investments in the “smart grid” for gas and electricity totaled $57.8 billion in 2016, according to the IDC. Now smart grid meters are widely deployed in the U.S. and in several European countries.

Smart grids and smart meters allow utility companies to cut down on inefficiencies while better analyzing demand. They do this by distributing utilities according to where they're needed at any given time. Cities have more opportunities to become greener and more efficient, as utility systems are replaced and upgraded to digitized systems. Smart meters help utility companies spot outages and know when to schedule repairs.

The oil and gas industries have also taken advantage of IoT solutions. Since these industries are spread across large areas, and have lots of valves, pipes and gauges to monitor, it's worth installing IoT solutions because the loss of revenue from just a few minutes of a breakdown is huge.

Consumer electronics and cars

One area of interest for investors is IoT-connected cars.

BI Intelligence, a premium research service for Business Insider, expects the shipping of 94 million connected cars in 2021. It's predicted that 82% of all cars shipped that year to be IoT connected. This would indicate a 35% compound annual growth rate from 21 million connected cars in 2016. Consumer IoT purchases comprised the fourth-largest market segment in 2016. It is projected to become the third-largest segment in 2020.

The past year has also marked the rise of home and office automation systems, plus digital assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Although digital assistants have been gaining popularity, it will take a while before most consumers invest in fully connected offices and homes. There's a slow process of introduction in this space.

Connected cars are also leading the IoT revolution in the consumer space. According to the IDC, connected vehicles and smart buildings are expected to rank among the top industry segments for IoT adoption throughout the next five years.


IoT technology has been implemented in healthcare and introduced to patients in various forms. The healthcare industry is one of the sectors that will see the fastest IoT spending growth in years to come.

The use of IoT is very broad in healthcare, ranging from medical machines for image sharing with a patient's other caregivers, to real-time location systems that can track equipment.

IoT solutions will also help with advances in implants, prosthetics, and wearables. Doctors can improve diagnosis and quality of care by collecting more relevant data and reducing errors. IoT is expected to become mainstream in healthcare by 2020, and IDC Health Insights predicts that by that year, 80% of consumer service interactions will use big data and IoT along with analytics to improve value, timeliness, and quality of care.


IoT will revolutionize retail, as 70% of retail decision-makers worldwide are prepared to adopt the IoT to improve customer experiences. By 2021, 90% of retailers will implement options to buy online and pickup in store. These are two of the insights from the Zebra 2017 Retail Vision Study.

An example of a current IoT solution implementation is that some retailers are using Bluetooth beacons in their stores to better reach their customers. These devices enable communication with customers' mobile phones to enable location-based services.

As IoT continues to grow and revolutionize industries, there will be many improvements to companies and services. Everyday operations will be monitored and handled in a more efficient manner, leading to more automated processes and increased productivity. Industries such as the automotive sector will make widespread advances in the years to come.

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