In the fast-paced, technology-driven world, businesses must promptly cater to their customers, and business needs to be a market front-runner. Thus, many businesses have changed the way they work by adopting the Internet of Things (IoT), whether its business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) to achieve decision promptness. IoT technologies can transform customers’ personal and social aspects of life and answer critical business problems with more flexibility and deeper data insights, says Yash Mehta, an IoT and big data science specialist.
As a result, IoT has proven to transform businesses and even entire industries. For example, the telecom industry has smoothly transitioned its business model from network providers to smart/digital infrastructure providers. All thanks to the need for IoT connectivity that spans across the globe.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the global business community quickly adopted new IoT technologies and platforms. So, recent events highlight the need for more accessible, more transparent, and resilient supply chains that can respond quickly to a crisis. As a result, the Verified Market Research report showed that the Global Internet of Things (IoT) Market was valued at $826.25 million (€716.28 million) in 2019 and is projected to reach $3,281.55 million (€2844.78 million) by 2027 growing at a CAGR of 19.98% from 2020 to 2027.
Let’s see how to revamp some of the ways businesses solve operational challenges by incorporating IoT technologies.
Utilising generated IoT data
IoT is churning out more and more data by the minute. Making all this data understandable through visual representation is the key to unlocking superior business intelligence. In addition, IoT helps data analysis through the sheer number of data points that today’s IoT sensors gather and transmit back to the cloud. These data points help automate and optimise processes, empower employees, retain and attract customers, and help improve business and building operations.
Data management with the Internet of Things can be smoother and quicker if approached and deployed the right way. As a result, businesses can make informed decisions and frame future strategies with actionable data not otherwise available to them. Also, the recent adoption of cloud services (for example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure) provides valuable insights into business operations and represents how critical business equipment and facility systems are utilised (or not).
In the manufacturing industry, data coming from IoT devices, IoT sensors, monitoring systems, etc., help businesses build solutions that foster preventative maintenance for essential equipment and processes. It also helps to manage environmental factors to boost equipment maintenance and efficiency.
Intelligent IoT connectivity helps businesses improve the processes, maintenance, and reduce downtime costs due to faulty equipment. IoT-based management systems monitor different processes and facility equipment to help reduce maintenance costs. These systems also ensure compliance with safety measures, such as air quality or temperature by using IoT-enabled sensors. The installation of sensors, tracking devices, and specialised space utilisation products help the retail industry in managing inventory and distribution to cut shipping times and costs. Even more important, these advanced sensors can track dwell time for floor managers and can see what displays are getting the most attention.
For the manufacturing industry, specifically, IoT solutions can reduce operational expenditures and downtime, and predict when critical machinery is likely to fail.
When it comes to commercial office spaces facility managers can now control building thermostats on their phones from anywhere. Contrast that to the days when staff had to go room to room to adjust temperatures only after they received a complaint by workers and tenants. This kind of granular control helps businesses to not only save on their energy bills but also helps to streamline facility staff time and efficiency. Also, the adoption of such technologies can help any business work steadily towards their social and environmental responsibilities as more companies launch Environmental, Social, and Governance programs.
Improving business intelligence
IoT has been proven to have the potential to unlock new data-driven business intelligence. The insights derived from the data throughout an organisation’s physical environment provide a bevy of data points that serve as the basis of deeper business intelligence. For example, the building managers aggregate data from energy efficiency devices installed in buildings to get a good deeper insight into energy spend, usage, and operations.
Similarly, the data from IoT devices installed in factory floors collect workflow habits, pathway congestion, and assembly line bottlenecks. Thus, businesses can now use deeper data insights to improve their business intelligence posture to streamline operations and improve bottom-line performance.
If one looks at the B2C market, there are additional opportunities for possible B2B expansion for service providers. For example, the data from IoT sensors in consumer products can be used for detecting machine/product wear and alert maintenance companies that service is needed. This additional B2B service can be sold as a subscription to consumers by maintenance service providers.
Read how Nest Learning Thermostat, a B2C IoT product transitioned its business model to the B2B service model.
Strengthening operational functions
IoT implementation enhances transportation, maintenance, and inventory functions; and ensures businesses are operating at optimal levels of efficiency.
In transportation, IoT devices help in tracking, optimise routing, and faster service provisioning. Vehicles enabled with IoT devices can re-route based on live traffic updates and save time and fuel. It also allows transparency in the logistics process.
In the manufacturing industry, the implementation of IoT solutions helps employees to easily access data and monitor processes at each production stage. IoT systems and solutions quickly facilitate data transfer and provide important alerts and notifications, enabling manufacturers to stay ahead of possible system and equipment failure. In addition, production supervisors can keep a check on the quality of the products efficiently. According to a recent study of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market, manufacturers implementing IoT have gained an 82% increase in efficiency and 49% fewer defects.
Getting started with IoT implementation: Let’s look at some of the IoT platforms
AWS IoT is a cloud platform that uses its existing network of cloud servers to connect devices and securely move data from physical sensors to servers across the world. It provides a high level of security (Transport Layer Security (TLS) cryptographic protocol) and offers services from device management to visualisation. It supports standard communication protocols like HTTPS, MQTT, and web sockets. With AWS IoT, it is easy to build rich IoT applications with the help of existing AWS services such as AWS Lambda, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon S3, Amazon Machine Learning, etc. The platform provides the feature to retrieve the most recent state of a device, even if a device has gone offline. In addition, the Job Service allows developers to create and schedule job actions on multiple devices regularly.
Cubica’s Intelligent IoT solutions are one of the newest additions to IoT platforms for businesses. The Cubica IoT Platform has become a considerable contender for deploying IoT solutions in small, medium, and large businesses with ease. The platform allows for full integration of various IoT devices, sensors, and communication protocols to ensure users have a single source for all of their IoT data from end to end. The Cubica IoT Platform’s mission is to give businesses opportunities to implement IoT solutions that digitise their physical environments quickly and easily.
The Cubica IoT Platform also supports standard communication protocols like HTTPS, MQTT, RestfulAPIs, and web sockets and more. Some top-rated IoT solutions include Building Energy Consumption, Indoor Air Quality, Occupancy Reporting, Water Leak Detection, and much more. The Cubica IoT Platform and Portal provides highly accessible dashboards that provide deep data insights and business intelligence to an organisation’s physical environments. The dashboard also shows timely alerts and warnings for facility management teams, building owners, and tenants. Cubica offers customised solutions to fit specific business needs. In all, it is an easy and efficient IoT platform.
Particle IoT is a platform that provides businesses with the tools they need to prototype IoT solutions and serve as a reliable and secure platform. The services offered are IoT hardware, connectivity, device cloud support, and IoT app integration.
Particle also offers an extensive amount of free and open documentation and tutorials for the IoT community including for both professional developers and small businesses who are starting their IoT implantation journey. This open community space allows the customers/developers to discuss and resolve IoT issues. With the same intention, the platform promotes a program called Particle For Good that includes 20% off IoT hardware, priority support, private community access, and collaboration opportunities and can be enrolled by non-profits and other businesses with the vision of making a positive social and environmental impact with the help of IoT technologies.
As discussed, IoT can be considered a promising long-term transformation strategy for businesses in many sectors. While IoT implementations may seem like a challenging prospect for many business owners, the fact is with the right integration and solution partner businesses of all sizes can benefit from the power of IoT devices. IoT innovation is advancing at breakneck speed and will only speed up in the coming years. If you’re not yet on the IoT bandwagon, now is the perfect time to start levering the business and facility intelligence that today’s solutions provide.
The author is Yash Mehta, an IoT and big data science specialist.