Over the last few years, the hype cycle for the Internet of things (IoT) has at times reached a fevered pitch. A slew of conferences, articles, research reports and press releases have touted the benefits of a highly connected and data-centric world. Although it’s insanely easy to get caught up in all the hoopla, it would also be a mistake to downplay or dismiss the concept.
“The Internet of things is rapidly gaining traction,” says Craig McNeil, managing director of the Internet of Things Practice at Accenture Digital. “A year or two ago, it was on everyone’s radar, and now it’s actually taking shape.”
Developing an IOT business strategy is critical. The Internet of things increasingly reaches across companies and supply chains, and touches customers in multiple ways. In fact, it’s at the foundation of today’s digital enterprise.
“The Internet of things revolves around three primary concepts, ” McNeil explains, “the ability to connect, compute and communicate. As we witness advances in mobility, cloud computing, instrumentation and other areas, it’s becoming an important part of the business world.”
Taking a Smart Approach to Planning an IoT Strategy
How can business and IT leaders sort through all the options? How can organizations approach the IoT smartly and in a cost-conscious manner?
Not surprisingly, one of the more formidable challenges is determining where to focus time, money and resources in the industrial and/or consumer spaces. With so many possibilities and potential approaches, it’s important to understand how the IoT leads to real-world business results.
In most cases, experts say, all of this translates into a need to think in an innovative and agile way, break down silos and boundaries, and explore new technologies and connection points. Ultimately, “The IoT is all about simplifying and automating,” says Kim Smith, chief digital officer at consulting firm Capgemini.
An IoT Strategy Can Drive Operational Efficiencies
The value of IoT is clear, says Accenture Digital’s McNeil. It can drive operational efficiencies that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.
For example, by tagging food or medicine, it’s possible to ensure that the item has been kept at the right temperature throughout transport—and pull it from shipments or shelves if there’s a problem. It’s also possible to better connect with consumers through real-time contextual marketing, as well as to monitor machines and performance far more efficiently.
However, the IoT can also introduce entirely new business models. For example, Uber and Airbnb are both businesses built entirely on IoT functionality. These businesses couldn’t have existed in the past.
It’s important to look for ways to both improve business and disrupt industry, McNeil says. That’s where IoT value peaks.
“The IoT provides a way to improve operational efficiency and cut costs, but it also introduces the possibility of adding revenue streams,” he adds. By using computers, devices, sensors and real-time data processing to create digital data points, organizations can move from being a product-based company to a data-driven company.
Capgemini’s Smith says that at the center of all this is a very basic concept: “Fueling the disruption with dexterity. You can brace yourself for the change, and you can react to the change, or you can try to fuel it.”
Making IoT Connections Count
One company attempting to take the latter tack is Armored Diesel Repair & Services, a San Antonio firm that provides field services for trucking and equipment companies in the oil and energy industry. Armored Diesel places repair trailers onsite at customers’ locations scattered across the Eagle Ford oil basin, and many of these facilities are hundreds of miles away from the central office.
“We have to make sure we have the parts we need onsite,” says Larry Mueller, Armored vice president of research and development. “Otherwise, we wind up with drivers spending hours driving back and forth to grab additional parts.” What’s more, the customer must wait for a delivery during the time when a truck or piece of equipment cannot operate.