Having worked in technology for as long as I have, there is one saying I have come to rely on - All that glitters is not gold. From the Apple Newton in the 1990s to the more recent Google Buzz - if you listen to the media or follow the hype on social platforms, it would seem that every new product or service is 'The Next Big Thing'.
Chances are, it's not.
Getting excited about the latest "game-changing" technology or invention that winds up a flop isn't such a dire mistake to make in the world of consumer technology. However, in the realm of enterprise technology,making the wrong investment decision may justplaceawhole company at risk.
So, how can organisations avoid getting caught up in the hype of the latest, greatest glittery invention and inevitably wasting company resources? In order to prevent making detrimental decisions, it is imperative to thoroughly assess both the short and long-term benefits that implementing thesaid technology will bring.
What are the business benefits of IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term caught up in the hype machine at the moment. Affecting everything in an organisation, from people to data to processes, the IoT is transforming the way companies do business and enabling them to achieve more than what was previously possible.
Gartner has predicted the total number of connected devices from the IoT to reach 26 billion installed units by 2020. This is up from just 900 million of such devices in 2009. As such, the phenomenon is expected to pump aboutUS$1.9 trillion into the global economy as IT spending continues to grow.
With so much hype over the IoT's transformative impact on the industry, most companies are now thinking about investing in IoT projects. However, how can theybe sure that this isn't yet another passing technology fad before making the investment? In order to make a well-informed decision, organisations need to consider and assess IoT's benefits.
These can be categorised into five key segments:
- Operational efficiency: The interconnection of devices can refine, integrate, optimise and automate business processes across an organisation. Functions may be dispersed globally in the context of a large enterprise (e.g. customer service in India, marketing in the UK etc.), and the IoT can combine these by providing and sharing information in real-time, allowing forbetter process efficiency and quick decision-making.
- New business models: By providing businesses with data and insights about current processes, customers, products and services, businesses gain the opportunity to expand existing strategic models and explore newand diverse revenue streams - thus promoting innovation and new product development.
Take for example a vending machine business.By leveraging smart data to keep track of inventory levels, the business could start offering inventory management services to partner companies that supply their machines with goods.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): IoT greatly increases the number of customer touch points, allowing businesses to strengthen their relationships with the end-user. Taking cars as an example -- historically, an automaker would only be able to interact with the customer upon the purchase of a new car. However, with the introduction of connected cars, applications now allow car manufacturers to track the customer daily.
Apart from producing a tremendous amount of data that provides companies with a deeper understanding of their customers, the constant monitoring also enables them to respond quickly as and when necessary. This level and speed of response to individual customers will then create a 'market of one', driving customer loyalty to new levels.
- Safety and security: Leveraging smart devices to monitor precautionary measures (such as fire alarm functionality and escape route access) helps to keep staff and customers safe. Smart buildings ensure premises are both safe and compliant, and cangreatly limit the chance of mishaps. Intelligence gleaned from the IoT allows businesses to be proactive in their security efforts, preventing theft, assault and large events that could potentially wipe out a company. High value assets such as cars or consumer electronic devices can also be tracked and recovered if stolen, reducing the costs of replacement and insurance.
- Asset relationship management: Just in the way IoT creates more touch points with the customer, it also does the same with company assets. By allowingthe mon itoringof assets' performance and output in real-time, businesses are thus able to ensure that they are performing to maximum ability. It also makes problem detection and life cycle management far more accurate.
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