The IoT Brings Value to Multiple Industries

By Tony Kontzer Print this article Print
Internet of Things

Whether it's monitoring aircraft engines, improving supply chains or keeping consumers informed about their food, the Internet of things is proving its worth.

Start With a Pilot IoT Project

Barilla's decision to focus on a manageable pilot project is a model other companies should mimic as they begin exploring IoT technologies, IDC analyst Christine Dover wrote in an email. Companies that jump in more aggressively may find they've bitten off more than they can chew.

"IoT is not a magic bullet, and it can be finicky," she pointed out. "Companies should generally start with pilot projects to learn what can be done for their business."

One of the reasons such pilot efforts are critical, according to Dover, is because effective IoT deployments require a certain level of data-crunching capabilities that many companies don't currently have in place. "You could go off down a rabbit hole if you don't have good methodology for analyzing the data," she warned.

Barilla's Belli reports that his team is being selective with the data it's identifying for delivery through the Food for Safety initiative. Throughout the early stages of the effort, the company is monitoring feedback from all the stakeholders, with special attention paid to the kinds of data that consumers want. If the feedback tells the company that consumers are asking for different types of data, Belli and his team will make the necessary tweaks.

"We are thinking about the needs of the consumer, which are changing," he says. "It is very challenging, to be sure."

Belli knows the real challenges will come once the Food for Safety initiative is expanded. At that point, he and his team will have to account for the various cultures of the countries in which Barilla sells its products. That can mean different communication preferences, varied expectations and unique information demands.

"We have to design a process that takes into account this complexity," he says. "At this moment, in our strategy, this complexity is our challenge."

Such challenges are to be expected as organizations branch into this new technology category, Nitin Bhas, head of research at Juniper Research, wrote in an email. "Expertise in utilizing the technology presents a concern for some companies, where traditionally their core competencies have been centered around products that are neither connected nor make use of analytics systems," he explained.

Whether it's the challenge of localizing data, getting the right analytical tools in place, or building up IoT app-development capabilities, companies should anticipate some growing pains as they get familiar with the IoT's inherent complexity.

At Barilla, the hope is that the IoT waters will be smoother once the company has successfully concluded the Food for Safety pilot.

This article was originally published on 2015-09-24

Tony Kontzer, a Baseline contributor, has been writing about the intersection of technology and business for 20 years.

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