Can the IoT save the High Street? Yes, if it concentrates on the basics

Like anyone who wants to keep up with IoT fashions, says freelance technology writer, Nick Booth, I spend a lot of time shopping for ideas.

I don’t care how many boxing day sales riots you’ve witnessed, you haven’t seen crowd madness until you’ve experienced ‘FIRA Frenzy’ at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This vast, out-of-town emporium now seems to attract every vendor in the world and they all seem to want to cram a whole year’s worth of marketing effort into four days.

For that reason some industry watchers, such as Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis, say they prefer smaller boutique events like Embedded World in Nuremberg and Enterprise Connect in Orlando.

All these IoT shopping events can blitz your memory in hours. The only way the human brain can rationalise the input is to hit the local shops for a few hours. A bit of shopping allows you to subconsciously process all those presentations before you return to the show refreshed and slightly less confused.

Watching businesses die

But there is a problem. All the local shops are awful. There’s no therapeutic value whatsoever in most shopping centres, unless you like watching businesses slowly die.

In the UK, America, Spain and everywhere else in the corporate jargon speaking world, department stores are being wiped out. Macy’s is closing stores from Wyoming to Washington. Even the shopping malls of California, a state whose economy is the fifth richest in the world, are dying out. You’d have thought all those Silicon Valley coders would do anything to escape the drudgery of their deskbound existence, but no, they’re all shopping online. Which is why other retail chains such as Nordstrom and JC Penney are shrinking back to nothing.

According to Credit Suisse’s latest report on commercial mortgage-backed securities, the 2019 Year Ahead Outlook, retail shrinkage will accelerate. “Retail bankruptcies and store closures will not abate and we will likely see another wave hit, early this year, following the holiday selling season,” says the report.

Estate agents in any country always describe the high street as the ‘heart of the community’. However, the technology industry has performed one of its dystopian disruptions and performed a community heart bypass. All the money the public spends is diverted into tax havens and never seen again. 

IoT to the rescue?

Let’s hope that the good people from the IoT industry can rescue us from this tyranny. Obviously, some of the factors killing the high street are beyond technology, such as local council legislation and tax policy. But retailers could be using their brains or and their brawn more purposefully.

Nick Booth

Dave Locke, EMEA CTO at World Wide Technology, insists that it’s possible to re-invigorate the retailers without painful surgery. The retailers aren’t using their existing IoT infrastructure properly and they are misinterpreting the masses of data they have to hand.

They should concentrate on the simple things. Typically, most retailers waste a fifth of the comms budget supporting their IoT network, according to Worldwide Technology. This wastage is caused by a mish mash of contrasting service provider contracts, characterised by outdated agreements to use technologies such as fixed lines and MPLS.

It’s ironic that high street retailers are being stung by the networking equivalent of those bogus BOGOF (buy-one-get-one-free) deals that supermarkets like to bamboozle customers with. Locke claims that a big data analysis of comms expenditure would reveal that most retailers are wasting money on bad utilisation of technology, billing errors and terrible interconnection routes.

The irony is that the money they spend on cameras and databases and analysis, in order to boost shop floor sales, massively overshadows any gains. For every extra pound gained by timely upselling interventions, they are wasting ten on mismanaged infrastructure.

It’s all a question of priorities and this is a point that IoT representatives need to impress on decision makers at boardroom level. “The IoT means everything to everyone,” says Locke, “but not everyone is right. It should not just be a collection of data points but an insightful analysis.”

Meanwhile, Rackspace claims says the herd is moving in the other direction. Retailers seem to be doing more of the things that haven’t reversed their decline so far. Such as drive more traffic to websites, create omnichannel customer experiences and implement new consumer-facing technologies, like VR and AR.

The hard bit is working out what to do, when the herd all seems to be moving in the wrong way. There is confidence in numbers. But one thing that shopping has taught us is that there’s nothing madder than a crowd.

The author, Nick Booth is a freelance technology writer.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

FEATURED IoT STORIES

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more
RECENT ARTICLES

Infineon simplifies secure IoT device-to-cloud authentication with CIRRENT Cloud ID service

Posted on: October 21, 2021

Munich, Germany. 21 October 2021 – Infineon Technologies AG launched CIRRENT Cloud ID, a service that automates cloud certificate provisioning and IoT device-to-cloud authentication. The easy-to-use service extends the chain of trust and makes tasks easier and more secure from chip-to-cloud, while lowering companies’ total cost of ownership. Cloud ID is ideal for cloud-connected product companies

Read more

MNOs want clearer views of network performance and user experience to generate new 5G revenues

Posted on: October 21, 2021

Quebec City, Canada – While 88% of mobile network operators (MNOs) are set to deploy 5G standalone (SA) in the next two years, many are still searching for the tools that will enable these networks to generate revenues from enterprises and industry. This is according to joint research findings from Heavy Reading and EXFO Inc., the communications industry’s

Read more