How to keep your IoT implementation on track to achieve not just primary goals but objectives you haven't even thought of
The Internet of Things is evolving and it’s changing the way we do business. IoT is no longer a differentiating asset for a select few, it’s a competitive necessity across many industries.
According to IOT Analytics and Forbes, there are seven billion connected IoT devices globally, and this figure will rise to over 21.5 billion by 2025. Frost & Sullivan forecasts the impact on ROI will be significant, with IoT expected to drive more than $10 trillion in global profits and cost savings over the next 10 years. These are significant projections for a technology that is generating a lot of buzz but can still be intimidating embrace.
While the ability to turn virtually any object into a “smart” object with a simple sensor makes good business sense, it’s also adding new complexity for managers. And opting for a custom solution designed specifically for your company's needs might end up making things more complicated than they need to be, costing you time and money as you try to figure out exactly what you need and how to implement it.
That’s why more enterprises are implementing off-the-shelf solutions. The trailblazing work of early adopters—developing concepts, proving them in the field and establishing best practices—has culminated in tested, successful solutions that fit a range of companies and industries. Now decision-makers can integrate IoT into their organizations without having to reinvent the wheel. Better yet, the risk involved decreases dramatically.
Still, few solutions are a perfect fit for a given company right out of the box. A little perspective from an experienced hand can be the difference between a useful tool and a truly transformational solution. Let's take a look at some of the ways you can turn a good, ready-made IoT solution into one that feels as though it was designed just for your company.
How to get the most from the IoT data you collect
Managers have long known that information is power. Logistics and operations managers have always tried to track and understand vital assets in order to make better decisions and boost productivity. And now IoT is transforming the way these businesses operate by introducing new and more efficient methods for collection and processing of data in real time.
Off-the-shelf products designed to track and monitor assets are readily available. But picking your devices is just part of the solution. Properly taking advantage of the data they generate requires actionable IoT analytics. If you aren’t confident you’ll be able to access these analytics on your own, a partner can be invaluable. The right provider can cleanse, enrich, and manage the data you'd like to harvest, ensuring it's easily accessible and highly usable by delivering it in a tidy package that's easy to parse.
This sort of customization doesn't need to be costly or complex. The right partner should have experience working with your chosen IoT solution and within your industry so they can provide what you need easily and affordably.
Remember: better data brings new opportunities
It's possible that the information you collect from IoT sensors and devices might be put to use in valuable ways that weren’t apparent at the outset.
Your customers, for example, may find value in having access to more information so that they can make better decisions. Additional data can create deeper engagement at the retail level or a better understanding of the supply chain – as in the case of a restaurant that tracks the delivery status of fresh ingredients so that customers know what will be on the menu each night.
Some off-the-shelf IoT platforms offer the ability to send push notifications to clients via social networks or custom apps. In other cases, you may need to partner with an IoT specialist to create a customized add-on to your chosen system, which will likely be a lot cheaper than developing a bespoke IoT solution from scratch.
The lesson here is that the information provided by your IoT setup can be leveraged in ways you might not intend. As you begin harvesting data, keep an open mind as to how it might be used to benefit other facets of your business.
Think twice, cut once, measure always
While the possibilities of IoT are exciting, they can lead some businesses down a rabbit hole of customizations. Before you jump in with both feet, consider asking some important questions. What will success look like and how will we measure it? How does this solution affect our company’s current processes? What resources will we need after launch? How will this benefit our customers?
Once you know what area you really want to draw data from, consider starting small. Run a pilot in a specific area of your business, make changes where necessary and grow from there. It’s a good idea to keep in mind that changing technology may also require you to change some of your processes. A pilot will give you an advance window into these changes, so you can predict the secondary and tertiary impacts, including impacts to resources and staff needs. Implementation of the new technology might happen quickly but adjusting to a new way of doing business can take a little time.
Source a partner you can trust
In some cases, enlisting the help of a partner – for both implementation and ongoing service and expertise – makes sense. Having a trusted partner allows businesses to easily adapt their IoT solution to their changing business needs without having to recruit or reallocate resources.
But trust shouldn’t come easily. In your search for a partner, it's a good idea to ask questions, chief among them: Does your provider have previous experience implementing IoT in your industry? An understanding of your specific circumstances can make a major difference in the efficacy of the customizations they design for you. Consider asking for customer references. Your IoT solution will be critical to your day-to-day operations, so you want to be sure that your partner will be there to keep it running smoothly.
To offer a true competitive advantage, an IoT solution must add efficiency to your processes and value for your customers. Many enterprise businesses that have successfully integrated IoT into their operations have started small, with the right staff or partner in place, and then committed to see the process through, making necessary changes along the way. The business possibilities for IoT are seemingly limitless and those that get it right will have a clear advantage over their competition.