The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most hyped “emerging technology” of recent times with growing interest from both developers and end-users alike. As the benefits of connecting inert devices to the internet are being recognized, businesses have been rolling out IoT devices at the drop of a hat.
From toasters that send SMS alerts when ready, to sensors that pick up on every signal the body sends, IoT is increasingly developing into an alternate acronym — The Irritation of Things. It’s not all butterflies and rainbows for businesses implementing IoT because amidst the frenzy of getting devices IoT ready, the ‘value’ aspect has gone completely amiss.
IoT acts as an enabler that helps generate value, increase revenue and reduce cost. Simply creating a product with no apparent value will only add to the existing clutter. Each product must have an inherent value of its own, a solution to a specific problem that makes it worth the time and the effort. When used effectively, IoT adds value by providing real time information. It is up to the developer to use IoT to the best of their advantage in order for it to stay relevant.
From a manufacturing standpoint, corporations use IoT solutions to reduce operation costs and increase revenue generation. IoT’s challenge here is to provide a solution that will address both these objectives effectively.
Revenue generation is straightforward; one can do it by either creating a new product or by upgrading an existing product. Let’s focus on the latter, how can IoT help generate more revenue from an existing product? Simple – through improved services. If an existing product, say a washing machine, is now IoT enabled, it can be used to detect malfunctions, monitor usage, dramatically improve response time and predict failure among many other possible features.
IoT thus helps increase the Value Added Services (VAS) the product offers. These VAS, when designed well with strong analytics, prove to be a better purchase than regular washing machines because of the value it is adding. Same with the case of automotive vehicles, a car with predictive maintenance adds more value than one that offers no information.
Addressing the second objective, maintaining assets, operations and manufacturing lines cost a lot of money and IoT can help bring the costs down to a point that makes a visible difference to the organization. For example, if an intelligent logistics asset-management system connects supply and demand to a fine just-in-time process leading to a reduction in the cost of inventory, cost of storage and cost of parts lying idle in a warehouse, it’s making an immediate difference.
Ultimately, IoT isn’t just about operation costs, money savings or smarter washing machines, it marks a fundamental shift that gives us the opportunity to constantly innovate and create intelligent products with value.
Published in FirstPost (August, 2016)