Now a household phrase, the Internet of Things is creeping its way into Super Bowl commercials, banner ads, and water cooler chats. There’s a lot of buzz around the amazing impact it’s having on consumer-facing goods such as sound systems and thermostats — but not enough people are talking about the ways it’s being used in business.

A growing number of industries are adopting connected devices, gathering and analyzing data, and ultimately seeing big returns on their investments. Gartner predicts there are 4.9 billion IoT devices currently in use across the globe, and it expects that number will grow to 25 billion by the year 2020.

How IoT and Big Data Are Transforming Industry

IoT isn’t just for big tech companies like Facebook and Google; it can be equally as transformative to old-school industries and occupations too. By adding the ability to collect and analyze metrics and performance data in real time, processes that have been in place for hundreds of years can now be improved upon with ease.

While IoT has the potential to revolutionize a variety of industries, here are four in particular that are poised to see big benefits:

1. Agriculture

The ongoing challenge in agriculture is finding ways to maximize resource productivity, whether it’s water, acreage, or equipment. IoT enables farmers to track these resources in real time and optimize their operations for greatest profitability.

John Deere, for example, has pioneered IoT technology in agriculture by adding sensors to its equipment that allow farmers to keep tabs on the health of their tractors and identify fuel-saving opportunities. Data collected from these sensors can be easily accessed through an online portal.

Further, products such as Semios are hitting the market that can monitor and control pest populations by emitting pheromones that disrupt mating patterns. And Granular, a service that aggregates satellite and drone data onto a proprietary platform, can integrate with John Deere’s API to provide even more agricultural connectivity.

Everything from soil moisture to chemical balances to barometric pressure can be monitored through IoT. Wide-scale adoption of this technology will certainly optimize the agriculture industry and make it much more efficient.

2. Healthcare

Wearable tech such as Fitbit and the Apple Watch have created a phenomenon known as the “quantified self.” Consumers have become obsessed with tracking and monitoring their own body data — and this information can be highly valuable to the healthcare industry. IoT is allowing doctors to get a much more holistic picture of a patient’s wellbeing.

IoT goes way beyond counting how many steps someone takes in a day; this technology can also track vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate, and sleep patterns, and the sensors can be connected to apps that allow hospitals, insurance companies, and fitness professionals to optimize the treatment and monitoring of the human body. Even GoJo, the manufacturer of Purell, offers a touchless hand sanitizer dispenser that tracks when and where doctors and nurses are washing their hands.

Real-time information gathered through connected technology is evolving the healthcare industry and enabling it to provide higher quality care to patients.

3. Manufacturing

As the world of connected technology continues to grow, IoT-driven automation is expected to save the global manufacturing industry a whopping $500 billion every year. Whether it's identifying wasteful inefficiencies, preventing equipment failure, or ensuring product quality, IoT provides endless money-saving and efficiency-boosting possibilities to factories everywhere.

Rockwell Automation created software called FactoryTalk that provides comprehensive dashboards on yields from every stage of the manufacturing line. Entire buildings can be monitored remotely, and the system detects the very first signs of impending equipment error. Ultimately, this relieves a ton of pressure from maintenance teams, makes life easier for quality control departments, and helps factories avoid costly downtime when machines break.

4. Automotive

Automobiles and IoT appear to be soul mates. While self-driving cars are the future, Automatic is the present. The company created an app that plugs into a car’s dashboard and collects data regarding fuel economy, speed, routes, traffic, and any other event that occurs while the vehicle is in motion — kind of like a super-advanced Fitbit for cars. What makes the product particularly interesting is that it has an app store. Empowering the development community to contribute to the platform will produce exponentially more innovation.

Further, Michelin began installing RFID sensors in its truck tires that monitor air pressure and ultimately reduce fleet fuel consumption. Whether it’s helping companies save money at the gas pump, optimizing routes, or tracking vehicle performance, IoT presents several benefits to the transportation industry.

Implementing IoT technology could transform your business into a pioneer just like the companies mentioned above. From retailers tracking foot traffic to airport security remotely monitoring x-ray machines, there’s always a use case for real-time data analysis and automation.