Internet of Things (IoT) has grown from being a fascinating idea to a powerful business enabler, thanks to the way the technology has proven its worth. After a temporary slowdown – like most things – during the coronavirus pandemic, IoT spending is set to climb back to double-digit growth, as per an IDC study covering 22 countries.
More enterprises than before are exploring IoT opportunities and building competitive advantages through IoT platforms. From consumer commerce to industrial asset tracking, internet of things is transforming the way businesses collect, leverage, and profit from data.
In this post, we talk about various IoT benefits and its prospects for businesses. We begin by taking a closer look at the role of IoT in business. Next, we examine how businesses can reshape themselves to derive comprehensive benefits of IoT. Finally, we conclude with some sooner-than-you-think, realistic trends in the future of IoT.
The role of IoT in business
Sophisticated data collection, backed by storage and analysis technologies, has ensured that enterprises get more data than ever. Businesses are happy they receive data because it helps them make more informed decisions. Consumers, on the other hand, see IoT devices as a conduit through which their voice is heard.
Here’s a brief summary of the different roles of IoT in business:
1. IoT adoption for improved customer experience
Data collected through sensor technology allows organizations to closely understand what customers want. Insights like how customers use a product or what features can make the product better remove a lot of guessing from business processes, making it one of the top benefits of using the Internet of Things in business.
2. IoT application for better insights on the workforce
IoT devices track the motions that workers go through during their work on an assembly line. For example, sensors help management understand how a slightly different work sequence could increase safety or reduce undue fatigue of workers.
3. IoT products to track assets and control costs
One of the most obvious industrial IoT applications is detecting wastage or spillage. IoT hardware and software will collect relevant data and expose points where wastage of material happens. Also, enhanced asset tracking, monitoring and identification, powered by IoT, cuts costs, minimizes waste and improves your inventory management practices.
4. IoT deployment to discover new opportunities
IoT data can contribute to innovations at both ends of the spectrum. On the higher end, there will be data on massive improvements that are expensive but also add great value. At the other end, sensors will reveal information about small positive changes that can be implemented quickly, something like how you display items on your menu.
How businesses can reshape and improve business value with IoT
Without a proper roadmap, technology deployment can be unwieldy, time-consuming and ineffective. The ensuing situation could keep your organization from realizing internet of things advantages.
Here’s a 10-step guide on how to reshape your business for IoT and derive tangible business value:
1. Ask what data you’ll need
Every activity in business can potentially generate data.
That’s why you want to begin your IoT implementation by asking what data you’ll need. Equipment maintenance, supply chain, customer expectations… understand what you’re looking for. Set clear goals before doing anything else.
2. Evaluate the security behind data collection
Treat data security as an investment, not as an expense; your data security builds trust, because of which more people will be willing to trust you with their data.
This is where you’ll want to look around for an outside expert who has experience in this matter and can show you the likely pitfalls. If you try to do all this yourself, you’ll not only delay the project but, more importantly, leave gaps for bad actors to exploit.
3. Understand the technology you’ll need
This is a crucial step that impacts your final outcomes, IoT spending and ROI.
Some of the technology you need will be easily available off-the-shelf, so don’t rush into creating everything that you need. However, don’t shy away from customization that you can’t operate without.
4. Choose the right partner
Internet of things is not something you do day in and day out, so don’t burden yourself by deciding to do everything yourself.
A right partner is not just an outsourced service, they’re your strategic and technology guide for everything IoT. Their previous experience will save you time and money. Besides, your IoT partner will refine your requirements and seamlessly integrate the new technology with your existing systems.
5. Set accountability
Internal as well as external teams must have clear lines drawn to define what will be the deliverables and who’ll do it.
Also, you want to delineate what to expect from the IoT system used and sensor technology deployed. All this is as important in the execution of your IoT project as it is in data storage and processing.
6. Prepare for data management
You don’t want to end up with tons of data without the wherewithal to store, process or interpret that data.
Firstly, be sure to opt for a scalable model. Next, be clear how and where you will be processing data: clearly define how much on-site processing, or edge computing, you’ll be using. Finally, you’ll need a clear roadmap on how you’ll be processing the data and in what way that data be fed back to your business processes.
7. Get teams fully involved
Even after you’ve collected, processed and stored data in usable formats, your teams will be the critical driver on how to utilize that data.
Be sure to explain to your employees what are the advantages of IoT. Get their buy-in on their roles in the enterprise-wide IoT implementation. And most important of all, equip them with the training and technologies they’d need. Align their efforts with the organizational IoT goals.
8. Begin low-cost, low-impact
Resist the idea of beginning with large-impact processes and reap large benefits early on.
Instead, start with areas that are not critical and are low-cost. That’s because some of the IoT technologies can be plug-and-play (well, not quite, but you get the idea) so you can see at least some results soon. Besides, it’s kind of failsafe so the negative impact will be minimal and likely reversible. After that, you can embrace IoT on a larger scale.
9. Keep learning, measuring, and improving
This is something you do for all technologies and IoT is no different.
Even after you test and implement IoT, you might see an occasional glitch. If you’ve a strong tech partner and a detailed roadmap, you’ll be able to both minimize such glitches and take corrective action faster. And that’s the whole point behind digital transformation – don’t make the same mistake twice; learn, correct and grow.
How will IoT impact business in future
Even though IoT is delivering strong, measurable results today, there’s a lot of untapped potential. Experts agree that many internet of things advantages are yet not fully realized.
Here’s a summary on how IoT will impact businesses in future:
Covering entire cities
Perhaps one of the most notable impacts of IoT in future could be how it will enable smart cities and how businesses will be a part of that transformation.
Consider a city that’s keen to reduce its carbon footprint. Authorities will use sensor technology embedded in IoT devices to keep track of the energy consumption in buildings as well as by vehicles. Fitting the urban landscape with data-collecting IoT devices that measure and report parameters to a centralized system and using some form of machine learning (ML) or artificial intelligence (AI) to suggest strategies will be a big opportunity for businesses. This single illustration itself is enough to give you an idea about how the IoT market will likely grow.
Bigger impact on retail commerce
Even today, online retailers are leveraging IoT to improve customer experience. This is going to expand in both the scale and range.
Consider a gadget you use at home, like a washing machine. When this device is IoT enabled, it will be sending real-time data to the manufacturer. They, in turn, will understand the frequency and intensity of usage. Based on that, they will be able to offer you tailor-made service plans. This will make sure your machine doesn’t break down, throws up no unpleasant surprises and meets your unique requirements, whatever they are.
Suited to the new normal
It’s widely agreed upon that the recent coronavirus outbreak has irreversibly changed the way we work.
Imagine you’ve sold some equipment to a customer and now they need your help. It wouldn’t always require your technical support team-member to be on-site. Your teams can be sitting in front of their laptops at home, solving customer problems. The data that the device sends to your teams lets them figure out the scale of the problem. Work from home, this way, adds an additional dimension because your teams are using factual, real-time data to solve recent problems.
Smarter cost control
A dollar saved is a dollar earned – that’s a truly appropriate quote for today’s businesses, considering the extremely competitive environment they operate in.
The Industrial internet of things will save money for enterprises in multiple ways. IoT software and services will keep a close watch on operations of machines, their power consumption patterns and likely break-down areas. This will generate insights for businesses on when it’s the right time to repair, service or switch off the machine. Simultaneously, they will track usage of spares and optimize warehouse management. This will place tight controls over how businesses spend money, without disturbing the production schedules.
Improved business outcomes
Businesses rely on their machines and people to consistently deliver products and services. Data on what are the optimum parameters for the back-end teams can silently give businesses an edge.
On the shop floor, you’ll see IoT devices tracking a multitude of parameters like temperature, pressure, humidity, noise, vibrations and more. Each of this will help the in-charge technical teams to do some minor alterations and achieve better output or higher quality. Service companies, say, those in the lending business, will increase their reliance on real-time data to send notifications for credit-card, instant loan approvals or investment advisory services. Because these notifications will be extremely contextual, they are a lot more likely to generate new business.
Conclusion: The growing scope of IoT
Internet of things is a proven technology that’s growing in its impact. Because it uses existing internet technology, the returns are more immediate, measurable and lasting.
Having said that, it’s important to realize that it’s a combination of hardware, software, strategic decisions, services and competence. A number of things will have to synchronize at the right time for IoT results to materialize. An expert can help you unravel immediate as well as long-term opportunities with IoT.
We’d love to help you explore what IoT can do for your business and whether you should be exploring this technology further. Book a discovery call with one of our advisors and take the first step today.
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