There is a huge amount of hype surrounding the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), says Sean Lorenz of LogMeIn. Connecting seemingly disparate and discrete devices for a range of business purposes – information gathering, remote controlling, improving the customer experience, etc. – has created an excitement not seen since the advent of mobile computing.
Eye-watering numbers are being thrown around as to how many things are going to be connected, what they will be, and how much money this is going to generate.
The potential of IoT is currently creating a huge amount of excitement among businesses, with analyst firm Gartner recently saying that the IoT is at the top of what it calls the ‘Hype Cycle’. But how can we turn this excitement into action to make the IoT reality, and how will the IoT impact business in practical terms?
Tangible benefits of IoT
Any business that manufactures and sells a physical product can realise tangible benefits by IoT-enabling their offering. Perhaps most importantly, the IoT can revolutionise customer interactions by, for the first time, enabling a direct, continual connection with customers. Businesses can monitor how their products are performing and being used daily, hourly or even in real time, by individual user and in aggregate.
Through analysing these interactions and metrics, and applying the findings to service, product management, sales and marketing efforts, it is then possible to vastly improve the customer experience (think predictive and proactive service, and products that perform reliably and offer compelling, useful features); boost brand loyalty via happy customers who are more entrenched with your product; and increase opportunities to up-sell through understanding at a granular level how specific customers are—or are not—using your products.
Once companies understand how to leverage the IoT for their particular business, one of the biggest concerns is how they are going to realise the connected product infrastructure that will facilitate these transformations. Businesses should not have to focus resources and spend months of time building – and then maintaining – enabling infrastructure. Instead, they need to look at putting all their efforts into creating innovative connected products. This requires ready-built infrastructures that enable businesses to easily and quickly connect, manage and engage.
‘Open’ approach to IoT service enablement
Connections need to be fast, secure, easy to enable and scalable. To help achieve this, an ‘open’ philosophy is needed that supports a range of software and hardware combinations, enabling the interconnection of not only devices, but also applications, data, places and users.
The advantage of using an IoT network based upon an ‘open’ philosophy is that it can easily integrate with third-party applications and devices, making true collaboration a reality. In addition, there must be end-to-end security to protect the integrity of devices, and clear policies around data privacy. Communications channels should use TLS and SSL, while API keys must be in place to give the correct level of access to the right person.
The reason that there is so much hype around the IoT is that it has the potential to be a game changer – its ultimate goal is nothing short of revolutionising customer engagement and opening a new world of business opportunities. However, this will only happen if organisations use the right tools to enable them to quickly develop connected products and services that add orders of magnitude more value to their customers and their business.
The author of this blog, Sean Lorenz, is technical product manager for Xively at LogMeIn. He helps drive the Xively Internet of Things (IoT) platform roadmap and works closely with customers to understand how connected products and operations can help transform their businesses.