Next Destination IOT

By PVN Pavan Kumar, Director - product Management, IOT Smart Connected Business, SAP Labs India

Imagine this - as you drive into a gas station to refuel your car, the sensors at the station scan your vehicle’s RFID or NFC code and then proceeds to relay pertinent information about you and the car to the on-premise retail outlet. The sensors also collect information from the in built intelligence system of your vehicle that identifies the number of passengers in the car based on the seat belts that are fastened. As you refuel, based on all the collated information, the fuel pump connected to the car’s in-dash system offers you customized discount packages on refreshments from the retail outlet. Welcome to the world of Internet of Things (IoT), and a glimpse of the potential impact IoT will have in our daily lives.

"IoT will not only bring in more productivity but will also help to manage work efficiently and solve challenging issues"

A well-defined IoT strategy can yield positive outcomes to any business. However, before implementing IoT the following factors need to be considered:

1. Well-Defined and Measurable Objectives: For adapting to IoT, businesses need to increase their operational efficiency and maintain brand equity with their customers while providing them with product differentiation. This would help take the consumer experience to a whole new level. A set of smart connected products will thus pave the way to advanced business models, helping companies generate new revenue streams.

For companies to define their business objectives the following three factors need to be kept in mind:

a. Improving operational efficiency:  The immediate benefit from IoT is automation, which helps improve productivity and gain operational efficiency. In a smart manufacturing environment, every machine is connected and every variable is continuously measured and analyzed. This allows organizations to make smarter decisions and prevent expensive down times.

b. Embedded Intelligence for Product Differentiation: IoT has evolved from a simple M2M setup to a broader network of smart connected devices as advanced sensors, processors, and software are being adopted into the mainstream world. Smart connected devices, bring companies and consumers closer, leading to improved customer satisfaction and brand equity. This result in blurring industry boundaries, re-shaping value chains and helping companies explore competitive landscapes.

c. Generating New Revenue Streams With Advanced Business Models: Fixed rules for establishing markets and capturing economic value have been in place for years. However, in today's day and age, advanced business models can be created as a result of the rise of the digital quotient among every line of business. With the advancement of IoT, the lines between manufacturers, customers or insurance providers continue to blur.

Organizations can address and meet their customer needs effectively by offering real-time solutions. With the help of IoT the influence of retailers in the supply chain can be reduced significantly.

2. Having the Right Data Strategy: With billions of connected devices, the growth of data has been exponential. Analysts estimate that about 2 billion gigabytes of data is produced every day, of which only 15 percent is actually useful.

This is where companies play an important role of deciding what percentage of data should be processed and sent to IoT cloud.

The right data strategy does not restrict data transmission, but it extracts only the essential information with the use of sensors. For example, an iPhone has less than 10 sensors, yet we see thousands of applications around them. In contrast, consider an industrial device like a machine or an appliance that has 3000+ sensors and which generates volumes of data- most of this data might not be useful for any analysis. Comparing an iPhone to an industrial device is not ideal. Nevertheless, this example conveys the importance of having the right data strategy. It is critical to identify those handful of sensors so that data collected from them, when analyzed can deliver outcome driven applications.

A right data strategy will strengthen data integrity by storing and analyzing the “right” data and will help reduce operational costs, which is the key to gaining value.

3. Internet of ‘Partnership’ Things (Ecosystem play): Traditional IT software comprises of two layers, an application layer and a platform layer. However, an IoT application typically comprises of a stack of five layers (Sensor/Device, Connectivity, Database, Application platform and Apps & Analytics) and the connectivity layer serves as the glue between the hardware and software.

At present, there are not many companies that offer turn key IoT solutions, so the success of any IoT application is based on good technical and business co-ordination between these fragmented industry ecosystem players.

‘IT’ to ‘IoT’ would be a new phenomenon for the industry. IoT will not only bring in more productivity but will also help to manage work efficiently and solve challenging issues. Although we are at the peak of the IoT hype curve, we are realizing the tangible outcomes of what IoT can yield. It is definitely on its way, moving from hype to reality and helping gain value along the way.

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