How enterprises across key industries can capitalise on IoT-led transformation

Over the past decade, IoT has evolved from being just a buzzword into a must-have technology. It’s revolutionised entire industries and as such is now at the heart of countless digital transformation initiatives, as IDC predicts IoT spending in Europe will exceed $200 billion (€176.52 billion) this year.

However, some enterprises are still questioning how IoT can be used to achieve real business outcomes. The focus has shifted from interpreting what IoT means for their organisation, towards how it can actually become a key driver for success, says Sukamal Banerjee, corporate vice president, industry software division and IoT works at HCL Technologies.

The IoT journey

To begin with, many businesses were adopting IoT purely to see what kind of difference it could make. With so many possibilities, it became a real issue of how and where to start. In the end, organisations selected an approach where IoT was evaluated for its merits on a case-by-case basis.

However, that phase is now over. The power of IoT has been realised, and technology leaders are starting to take it more seriously. The question now falling on everyone’s lips is how enterprises can harness it to make real business progress, and the urgency to answer that question is only growing as the pandemic put more pressure on enterprises than ever before to digitally transform.

Taking a different direction

The answer is for organisations to look at IoT from a proof of value perspective. That way, they’ll truly be able to understand the impact IoT will have on their business, along with the long-term benefits. Let’s do away with proof of concept and skip straight ahead to what’s at stake.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that digital transformation cannot come soon enough. With that in mind, organisations should look at all the opportunities available for implementing IoT solutions and determine the real value those possibilities provide. This will help to speed up IoT deployments and ensure IoT will drive real business value and success.

We can explore how this works in practice by analysing how key industries could use the value-led approach to achieve better business outcomes.

Disrupting energy

The energy industry is well-known for having large scale deployments of physical assets across vast areas, for instance power cables and towers. Power companies rely on the ability to continually monitor those assets at all times. This can prove tricky though when relying on manual efforts.

Remote monitoring can improve accuracy and safety; IoT is perfect for this, with image analytics enabling better maintenance and control, and smart meters improving accuracy by giving near real time information.

Smarter manufacturing

Manufacturing is another industry with solid IoT use cases. These became particularly prevalent during the pandemic, when many manufacturing plants ended up having to stop production. Current staffing shortages are also leading to some operations becoming disrupted.

IoT has a transformative effect on these problems, making it possible for production to continue with a smaller workforce. For instance, during worker shortages asset tracking can provide real time insights and decision making, running automated equipment to enable production lines to run with little-to-no human interference. IoT can prove invaluable in kickstarting supply chains around the world, with companies investing in integrated IoT solutions to keep manufacturing moving.

Breathing new life into life sciences research

While the life sciences industry has proven particularly critical over the last couple of years, it has been challenged as the pandemic saw clinical trials disrupted and put on hold. The need for people to practice social distancing while working on detection and prevention projects saw life sciences put under extreme pressure.

However, new wearables and medical grade physiological devices could play a huge role in enabling decentralised trials. Combined with a smart telemetry-enabled IoT platform, it could be made possible for pharmaceutical companies to develop an integrated patient hub that could be up and running within days, which would revolutionise patient outcomes while ensuring social distancing was adhered to.

Enabling an IoT revolution

Other key sectors, such as mining, retail, transportation, and logistics, are all coming up against their own issues. All these areas require urgent attention and technological intervention if real progress is to be made. The burden falls on technology providers to scale up their digital capabilities so they can deliver tangible outcomes for all industries.

By working closely with organisations, service providers must ensure all business needs will be met and real success can be achieved. But how exactly can organisations ensure that? What should they be expecting from their IT service providers as they look to capitalise on IoT?

Sukamal Banerjee

Firstly, there needs to be a clear roadmap showing what technologies enterprises should implement and the real-life outcomes they will address. As well as this, businesses must make sure their technology partner offers an end-to-end integrated solution, that will outline and manage their IoT-led transformation in detail. It should spell out exactly what steps will be taken from design right through to completion, to ensure all tangible business goals are met.

For any IoT innovations to work, service providers must work with organisations to ensure they have the right architecture in place. They need an infrastructure that can harness all the data and use it to achieve business goals, otherwise there’s no point installing IoT technology.

At the same time, technology partners need to devise a security plan in collaboration with the business, so any security risks can be quickly identified and addressed. In addition, they need to educate the enterprise on the importance of upskilling staff and having a cultural shift, so they make the most of their IoT deployments. There’s no use installing new technology, if staff don’t know how to use it or don’t bother to share knowledge with each other.

A value-led future

This new value-led perspective will enable enterprises to take full advantage of all the benefits IoT has to offer. Instead, of implementing it at will, organisations can harness IoT technology knowing full well it will make a real difference to their business outcomes.

It’s this proof of value approach that will enable industries to evolve and succeed at an exponential rate. However, all of this relies on having the support of their IT provider. If their partner can’t fulfil their needs, then enterprises won’t be able to capitalise on all the benefits that IoT has to give. They must work with a tech company, that has a clear vision of how to meet the business’s goals through IoT technology.

The author is Sukamal Banerjee, corporate vice president, industry software division and IoT works at HCL Technologies.

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