The Internet of Things (IoT), has quickly moved from concept to reality. Like many technology trends, we’ve seen the impact in our personal lives ahead of our professional lives. Smart speakers especially have become common place in the home with new devices like connected doorbells and cameras hot on its tail. It’s enabling all kinds of exciting insight and automation that not only makes our lives easier, but often enriches them too. Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) like controls and objects are coming together like never before.
When it comes to IoT for business however, the perception of what’s possible and how it can be used is very different. There’s a misplaced belief that IoT is only for the largest organisations. Naturally, those organisations, with their greater resource and finances are simply better placed to make sense of the information surrounding IoT and contextualise it for their business. The reality though is that while IoT has the potential to do cool things like report on the functional status of an engine powering an aeroplane, or facilitate retail sales without a checkout, there are countless more modest opportunities smaller businesses should be exploring.
Like any new trend, the actual technology driving it is becoming more ubiquitous and cheaper by the day. You now don’t need to have multi-million-pound budget to achieve something amazing with IoT that could really change the game for your business. But many organisations come unstuck by rushing straight into the technology, without properly framing the challenge to be solved or the connected parts that will determine success. According to a recent study by Cisco, 76% of all IoT projects fail and lack of inter-disciplinary collaboration is one of the biggest reasons for this. From our experience, an IoT solution is much more likely to be discovered and be successful if the approach is human-centred and considers problems as they impact people and the jobs they do. Literally, thinking about ‘a day in the life’ of key personnel within your business will help with this. Choosing the right technology and knitting it together properly is critical but comes after properly understanding the problem.
Of course, every technology vendor now has an IoT string to their bow and it’s easy to get distracted by technology rather than its application. No one vendor can do everything, so it’s more important to think about how you join everything together to achieve the end you’re looking for. Simplistically, every IoT solution will involve three main pillars:
1. Data collection – Acquired from a sensor. This could be anything from a factory machine to a mobile phone in the hands of a user.
2. Data transport – How will the data gathered by the sensor be moved to somewhere it can be stored and interpreted, typically your data centre. This involves wired, wireless and mobile networks working together.
3. Data analysis – Secure in your data centre, how are you going to analyse the data and turn it into richer information that informs your business?
The IoT momentum and pervasiveness in other parts of our lives is ensuring IT and business executives sit up and take a serious look. If you’re reading this and thinking that you just don’t have the know-how, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The nature of this fast-moving market means that lots of businesses aren’t in touch with what’s possible or the opportunities for their business.
That’s where we hope we can help and see you don’t take a wrong turn. Working with our partners, we’ve started to assemble a series of market-ready IoT solutions that provide reference architectures for businesses in all kinds of sectors from manufacturing to retail. While not prescriptive, they offer insight into the problems typically experienced in these sectors and offer a view on how they can be solved through IoT. They are a great basis for starting an exploratory discussion and are based on real-world budgets.
Likewise, we’ve created a 2-hour IoT Discovery Workshop for anyone keen to explore the possibilities further.
If you’d like to know more about IoT or would like to discuss a Discovery Workshop, contact us now.