IoT in Action: Moving Past the Promise with Real World Applications

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most hyped emerging solutions for both business and consumer-focused business. It has been built up to solve every need imaginable, from automatically ordering more laundry detergent to making sure your pet is getting enough sleep, exercise, and emotional attention!

Depending on which analyst firm you follow, it is projected there will be anywhere from 20 billion to over 100 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, a majority of those devices being used in enterprise and government solutions. While the adequacy of your pet’s sleep schedule is important, the almighty ROI rests in countless business opportunities–from new sources of revenue streams to adhering to compliance regulations, tracking assets, and ruthlessly driving the cost of a business.

If all the terminology and technology seems unclear, you’re not alone.

The concept of IoT exists to describe how hardware companies, software companies, systems integrators, and network providers come together to create the entire solution that gathers data from objects. The term does little to clarify the technology to the end customer–the people who need to put all the pieces of the solution together. Pop quiz–Which IoT ecosystem partner should a customer call first? It is completely unclear how to even reach out for help when starting a project.

From an end user perspective, IoT does not exist.

No one calls their technology supplier and orders twenty pounds of IoT in their favorite color. IoT as a concept can be confusing, as every user of the technology sees it differently. Companies and consumers don’t need IoT. They have a very specific problem they need to solve, a gap in data they need to fill, or an efficiency issue in their operations that needs to be addressed. In fact, most of the people implementing what the industry describes as an IoT solution would not even think of it as an IoT. It is simply a business problem.

Examples of IoT in Action

Take for instance a pallet company. It sees IoT as a low-cost asset tracking opportunity that can turn information into a monetizable service for their customers–providing insight into what happens to goods during transport.

o An agricultural company sees IoT as a soil sensor solution, determining the timing and amount of water and fertilizer to apply to crops.

o An energy company embraces IoT to learn where tank assets are and when they need refueling, streamlining their operations.

o A billboard company view IoT as an optimal way to know when the lights go out to avoid having to pay fines or credit advertising for visibility loss.

o A municipality sees the potential IoT provides to improve quality of service for their citizens, from street lights that need maintenance to flow and pressure of underground water systems.

The common element in all these examples is the massive benefit experienced from the availability of what previously was unavailable data.

IoT in Action

This IoT in Action post is the first in a series in which I will provide enterprise and industrial business decision makers use case examples, some real world, some hypothetical, to spur ideas to help you solve business challenges by means of IoT. I’ll dive into examples of how companies from across different industries and geographies are harnessing the power of IoT to reduce costs and create new revenue streams. It is not a question of whether IoT is being integrated into everyone’s business over the next few years. It is only a question of who will embrace it faster and better on the path to incredible success.

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, famously stated that you cannot manage what you cannot measure. So, what happens when companies can measure every aspect of their business? Those companies that recognize that we are at a tipping point in enabling technologies will capture and exploit unfair revenue, market share, and competitive advantage.

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