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Amidst all the hype and wide-eyed growth predicted for virtual reality, it's often difficult for stakeholders to decide which of its two words to focus on. Will VR deliver only indirect, 'virtual' benefits to in the manufacturing industry or direct, tangible benefits that become a bottom-line ‘reality’? On this topic, today's hype will definitely become tomorrow's given. In both ways. Even in these early days, VR is already a game changer for the future and holds immense promise for almost every manufacturing vertical. This includes auto manufacturing, electronic manufacturing, and nearly every form of manufacturing there is.

 

VR might utilize complex technologies, but its innovation is easy to grasp. Simply put, VR is a logical, next-step evolution in our ability to communicate with each other and with groups. Five thousand years ago, literacy made our thoughts portable. Almost a century ago, the first talking movie made experiences portable. Thanks to technological progress, VR now lets us create and easily distribute new, richer experiences that go beyond the time and space limitations of today's media. Every manufacturing company that needs to convey something - to a client, a trainee, or an audience - will benefit from the VR paradigm shift.

 

Keep your eyes open, unless they are already behind a headset, for the incredible changes coming in the near future thanks to VR. Here are just a few we can expect to see:

 

Beyond sight and sound

 

Through VR, perceptual experiences can now take place in three dimensions; a major evolution in and of itself. This benefit is already in growing use throughout the engineering and manufacturing industries, where prospective clients can walk through environments and properties to make informed visiting or purchase decisions. For example, those in the engineering space likely use computer-aided drafting (CAD) as a tool to help their ideas come into fruition; imagine if those professionals were able to actually interact and communicate with their CAD masterpieces. Imagine being able to design a part not with a mouse and keyboard, but by picking it up with your hands in the virtual space. On the manufacturing side, imagine being able to test out how parts fit together with your hands before casting or molding them. Not only does virtual reality make this plausible, but it also makes it possible.

 

In the near future, engineers and manufacturers will be able to collaboratively work together in a revolutionary new way, making for a more seamless product development and manufacturing process. Projects will be fine-tuned by taking input from colleagues as well as the physical, hands-on challenges that the project itself presents. This will happen in real-time and seemingly “real-life” despite it being a computer-generated simulation. If both engineers and manufacturers had the ability to interact with their projects in a transparent, hands-on manner, their start-to-finish times would decrease and there would be skyrocketing numbers inefficiency. Not to mention better product design and less need for re-dos or last-minute changes in the manufacturing plant.

 

 

VR moves us beyond the limitations of the two senses used in today's communications: sight and sound. By way of hardware peripherals, VR experiences will include tactile and other sensory information to further emulate physical reality. If seeing is believing, what is touching worth? Customers will be able to feel the material before they buy that suit or curtain. Doctors will practice removing that tumor on the patient’s heart before doing the dangerous procedure in real life. Wearables will produce and extract additional sensations for and from the user. Manufacturing companies will get to see a preview of what the real production line will look like and how it will work.

 

Multiple paths to the right message

 

More than any existing media, VR can provide an experience that's genuinely interactive and able to switch the narrative flow in real time. The user, the author, the publisher, and even the audience can all influence activity to a directed outcome, whether it's an informed trainee, a successful sale or a storybook happy ending. The gaming industry has long been pioneering these open-narrative experiences through 'quests' where the user determines the action, as well as through networked games, where multiple participants can affect actions and outcome simultaneously.

 

It can be argued that virtual reality, and its recent boom in growth, can be attributed to the gaming industry. As gamers pushed for games that are more realistic, have better graphics, and are more immersive, VR was born. Though, the past has taught us that a technology’s future is not limited to its origin. Despite VR’s roots being in the gaming industry, it is already spreading into other areas of the world.

 

If one were to transpose gaming into the business world, a quest could be compared to any transaction or negotiation. The action involves the presentation of persuasive information (such as a proposition or product demo) by one party, while the other decides whether the choice is compelling. If so, deeper interest is expressed and deeper content invoked. If not, alternative content is delivered or selected. While this is happening, a third-party distributor of the content might be deciding, through AI and selective data, which content to serve to which user in real time. An outside audience, such as a focus group or other customers, could steer the details and outcome. VR does away with the one-sidedness of linear experiences like video. It subsequently allows for more accurate, more realistic, and more informed product feedback decisions.

 

Perhaps most importantly is the direct connection VR establishes between customer and manufacturer. Aside from small focus groups and beta-testers, manufacturing companies are highly restricted when it comes to letting users get their hands on a product until after it has been widely manufactured. Virtual reality will allow a manufacturer to put a tangible, interactive product in a customer’s hands without ever physically manufacturing it. Not only will this save time and money, but it will also allow the manufacturer to identify changes and apply them before physically producing a large run of the product.

 

Liberation from place

 

What if there were a Skype for physical presence? Short of the matter transporter that Trekkies dream about, VR will be our closest answer. What if you could invite thousands to a physical venue that only held a dozen? What if a company's best global talent could interact on the same project in real time without travel? What if companies could train new employees through real-world simulations, rather than procedure manuals and explainer videos?

 

The immersive aspect of VR makes all this possible. Today's teleconferencing will seem archaic in comparison to VR's shared group experiences, where one-to-one can take place at the same time as one-to-many. Our most acute human assets will re-emerge through this technology. Physical cues like eye contact and body language will matter again. Even if two people are on opposite sides of the globe. Who's paying attention and who's not will be obvious once more. Naturally, this will all be captured as data. However, it will seem as natural as shaking the hand of someone in the same room once you slip on the headset. Simply imagine the impact that this will have on how business is done in the near future.

 

Unmistakable Cost Effectiveness

 

When it comes to manufacturing, it takes two things to have a great operation: cost-effectiveness and production of a good product. When you combine both of these things, you have an operation primed for success and profits. Though they are both achievable through today’s traditional methods, as evidenced by the manufacturing companies of today, VR will make the process of getting there easier and more accessible.

 

Those in the manufacturing industry know how much money is spent on correcting mistakes, re-doing things, and going back to fix problems that could have been avoided in the first place. With VR, leaders in manufacturing will be able to run simulations that examine nearly every aspect of the manufacturing process. This will practically eliminate the costly mistakes and poor projections that cost so much money. In turn, these companies will see much higher profits and quickly pay off the investments they have made in VR.

 

Even more so, employers will be able to train employees more effectively and more efficiently. This will drastically cut back on paid hours of training time, days off for training or conferences, and more. By having employees who are better trained run a facility, the manufacturing process will ultimately be smoother as a whole, further eliminating mistakes and problems.

 

Far-Reaching Impact

 

Which industries will benefit from VR? All of them. The only catch? VR technology must become more adept, standardized and accessible. In these early days of a global technology shift, the sentiment is still mixed. According to the Consumer Technology Association, users have trouble finding the content they want, and without it, headset usage - and interest - declines. Fortunately, there are hordes of talented developers working on the content needed as you are reading this. In the coming days, content libraries will begin to fill up and one-by-one large corporations and small businesses alike will embrace the positive change that VR brings.

 

In time, arguably a short amount of time, VR will be a complete game-changer. It will revolutionize the business, engineering, medical, and manufacturing worlds and elevate them to new heights. Efficiency will be bolstered, communication will be more natural, and product development will be seamless. So, although the word ‘virtual’ is in the name, you can expect nothing less than ‘reality’ when it comes to the impact VR will have in the near future; both for the business enterprise and for the human enterprise.

 

Joseph Zulick is a writer and manager at MRO Electric and Supply.

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The Internet of Things will do more than make our homes and cities stronger. They’ll also make everything more connected - including our people. To put it simply, we’re moving into the era of Civic Engagement 2.0. And that’s a wonderful thing, provided your city is prepared for it. Here’s how you can be.
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It is still the early days for autonomous trucks, and a report by Gartner estimates that by 2021, less than 1% of long-haul, over-the-road freight will be carried by driverless trucks.

The trucking business already leverages the advantages of using mobile technologies, but the volatile nature of rising labor rates, fuel costs, increased traffic, and a changing regulatory environment, continuously making operations challenging.

Inefficiencies caused by lack of visibility create considerable costs. However, with the help of disruptive technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), visibility into equipment, assets, personnel, and transactions, enterprises can better support crucial operations in real-time and improve operational efficiency and performance.

By leveraging enterprise IoT asset intelligence, the trucking can tackle problems with solutions powered by IoT. 

Problem # 1: The traditional transportation model lacks the operational efficiency of the trucks.

The Solution: IoT in transportation has empowered trucking business owners to improve the operational efficiency of trucks by real-time monitoring and tracking of the fleets. With real-time monitoring capability, decision-makers can make out-of-the-box business decisions. Whenever there is an engine oil leakage, an alert is sent well before time indicating about the threshold it has reached, that’s how the internet of things makes a difference in the trucking business.

 

Problem # 2: The consumption of fuel was increasing and congestion problems start arising. 

The Solution: Usually, the traditional transportation business models consumed energy affluently due to improper route management, so an optimized route management was crucial to building a sustainable trucking business. With the help of real-time field data, efficient fleet route management eliminated almost 175 grams of carbon emission, produced by every extra mile traveled by any vehicle. With the manual monitoring getting expensive and inaccessible, the IoT enabled heat and motion sensors to utilize the energy resources more smartly, which provides huge value to the administrators. 

 

Problem # 3: Tracking of public transport became a serious issue.

The Solution: Managing the traveling from one point to other was possible by the traditional public transport but not the tracking real-time location of the vehicle and knowing when it will arrive at a particular stop. With the help of real-time sensor data, selecting the optimal route based on real-time conditions got easy, resulting in better public transit management. The IoT sensors tell where the traffic is jammed up and reduces the congestion and find an alternate route became easy which consumed the energy and time. IoT sensors tell where the traffic is jammed and convey the alert to the fleet and find an alternate optimized route to save time and energy.

 

Problem # 4: Increase in operational cost and damage to the infrastructure.

The Solution: From the traditional transportation model, loading the exact amount of load in the trailers was near to impossible. So, a proper check on the vehicles like size, weight, and type of vehicles is done and the load in the trailer is measured in real-time using weight sensors. Through IoT and smart devices, the overloaded vehicles can be identified and can be partially unloaded to evade fines. From the real-time tracking, alerts are sent well before time so that an optimized efficiency can be achieved.

 

Problem # 5: No advance alerts and availability of parking slots.

The Solution: The integrated smart transportation system tells the real-time information of the driver as well as the vehicle and warns them about the potential engine outbreaks. IoT in transportation can also ensure the smart parking, which tells about the lots that are presently available in real-time. Also, the multi-level parking system helps in reducing the operating and maintenance expenses. IoT sensors help in increasing the safety, comfort, and efficiency in driving and parking.

 

CONCLUSION:

Over several recent years, the Internet of Things has unlocked a box of new opportunities in the trucking industry and has undoubtedly advanced beyond recognition. IoT is all about digitally connecting devices and analyzing the data to predict future outcomes or possibilities and the transportation industry is at a point where it can leverage the full potential of this disruptive technology.

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Digital Transformation is moving any company into the future. Well, this statement is true for Disney, Nestle, Apple, Amazon and other leaders as they focused mostly on the customer/user experience.
 
Digital Transformation is in almost every c-level magazine, blog and whitepaper and executives do not want someone comes in and disrupt their business.
 
If you want to reap the rewards of the digital revolution, a smooth, easy and positive user experience is vital.
 
People may not be getting technically proficient, but they have become more comfortable using their smartphones to download music, find the nearest movie theatre or pay for purchases. This raises the bar for user experience.
 
Today organizations are adopting MobilityAnalytics, and the Internet of Things for Digital. However, solutions, which are not intuitive, responsive and social, does not have a place in the customer’s list. So it becomes appropriate for companies to get into the user experience space.
 
A UX design can supercharge productivity, add immense value to customer interactions, and help employees love their jobs.
 
It is extremely important to do an accurate analysis of users, their needs by conducting surveys, workshops to design the UX.
 
Here are six major criteria for UX design:
  • Easy to find: How easy it is to find a site or application
  • Ease of use: How easy it is to use the site or application, how easy to learn
  • Easy to access: How easy it is to access the site or application, easy to understand, easy to reach
  • Usefulness: How useful the features and functions are and they meet my needs
  • Elements of desirability: Will make users like the product’s looks and feel and visual appeal
  • Credibility: How much users trust the site or application, creating the overall brand experience
 
Overall UX design should have short navigation steps so users require very few clicks to get the information they want. It should be based on responsive web designs so application maintain full functionality, usability and appeal on different browsers and screens from desktop to laptops to tablets to smartphones.
 
Once you have applied these criteria it is also important to measure the results, for future course correction. One initial KPI is user adoption rates, which should be higher than 60%.
 
The great user interface makes the experience better, transactions easier, decision making simple and cuts down the operational costs. 
 
It is the deciding factor for keeping/loosing or successfully engaging a customer.
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The internet of things (IoT) is much more than the next step in consumer technologies — it also represents a significant leap forward for industries of all kinds.

Manufacturing is already — and will continue to be — a field almost uniquely suited to applying IoT technology. In fact, there's almost no part of the process that won't be touched in some way by this ever-expanding web of smart and interconnected sensors, computers and machines. No matter how large or small your operation is, it's increasingly difficult to understate the potential value of adding intelligence and oversight to your processes using the internet of things.

Here are four ways IoT is revolutionizing the field of manufacturing.

A Greater Degree of Competitiveness

According to a report published by Verizon in 2016, an overwhelming majority of manufacturing managers already consider IoT technology a critical competitive advantage. It's hard to believe that such a sea change happened practically overnight, but not quite so much when you realize what's at stake.

Suffice it to say, the IoT represents a bundle of industrial innovations that have been a long time coming. Most of the competitive advantages cited by the Verizon report have to do with parts of the manufacturing and business processes that required guesswork or drew from incomplete data sets. We're talking things like altering business processes based on current demand and future trends, optimizing longstanding workflows and responding to unforeseen events.

Technology powered by the IoT can make manufacturing companies more competitive by, among other things, granting some autonomy and automation to back-end processes that inform the rest of your employee processes and workflows. This type of automation could, for example, automatically flag product for shipment to another location based on current levels or even trip a slowdown on one production line to pivot to another product if future demand isn't expected to be there.

The result is a leaner business that can run circles around your more flat-footed competition, who might've been slow to adopt modern technologies. 

A Demystified Supply Chain

Gathering useful insights into the supply chain — that all-important web of manufacturers, shippers and vendors that makes modern production and order fulfillment possible — has been one of the most significant advantages of applying the IoT.

Of course, oversight into vendor and shipper processes is nothing new — but accessing it and making decisions in real-time is a relatively new innovation courtesy of the IoT. These days, every plant location and every party responsible for assembling or moving finished or in-progress merchandise enjoys a higher degree of transparency and collaboration thanks to remote monitoring technology, sensors along material handling paths and assembly lines, and more.

Perhaps most importantly, the availability of granular data at each stage lets each party know exactly what inventory levels look like, all the way up and down the supply chain. This is a significant innovation and a huge stride toward true lean and just-in-time manufacturing, not to mention seamless collaboration. Neither wasteful production methods nor products sitting idle that are needed elsewhere are long for this world, and it's all thanks to the IoT.

Automated Maintenance and Unsafe Operation Alerts

Even the very machines manufacturers use to fabricate and assemble new products are getting smarter thanks to the internet of things. Low-cost sensors are easier than ever for facilities to deploy on their critical machines and equipment, which can make the time and labor associated with ongoing maintenance far easier to manage.

Sensors on manufacturing and product handling equipment provide real-time alerts and analysis concerning the condition of the machine and its many moving parts. These sensors can also take the guesswork and scheduling out of regular equipment maintenance by sending an alert to the appropriate parties at regular intervals — or whenever the machine's onboard self-diagnostic tools detect an impending failure or fault.

The implications for manufacturing are enormous since no two organizations work under the same conditions and with the same equipment. IoT-powered condition-based alerts help facilities maintain the health of their machines, no matter where in the world they're located and no matter what the temperature and humidity are doing. Some devices are more finicky than others when it comes to environmental conditions, making no-hassle maintenance a considerable advantage.

Improved Safety Oversight

Before the industrial internet of things, key performance indicators for employee safety and work environment were commonly spread across several systems, including paper-based ones. This made it difficult for plant managers to get a good, top-down sense of where dangerous processes existed or what types of simple process changes might result in improvements.

The internet of things makes it possible to gather data concerning work accidents and near-misses, property damage, employee injury rates by process and more. It's quite common — and potentially even required — for modern business to track some of these data points as for various compliance purposes. However, it's less common to assemble them in one place and use modern digital technologies to draw actionable conclusions, isolate consistent trouble areas and drill down to causes.

Wearables are another safety-minded application of the IoT. Helmets and wristbands are being eyed as possible future locations for health-related sensors to keep track of workers' physical locations, temperatures, heart rates and more — all in service of rotating employees more regularly, keeping bodily stresses to a minimum and bolstering organizational safety as a whole.

Tomorrow's Technology Today

It's likely that the future will see even more IoT innovations for manufacturing. For right now, these four major improvement areas represent many opportunities for the modern business to revolutionize what they do and how they do it.

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Despite the great promise of IoT to improve business and society, many think it’s being held back due to complexity and the associated lack of required skills to make it a success. Is it possible that the antidote to this complexity and skill shortage problem lies in the existing open standards and technologies that comprise the World Wide Web? In this podcast, Rob Tiffany makes the case for using existing W3C standards to power the Internet of Things.

Check it out at https://theinternetofthings.io/iot-podcast-can-the-web-save-the-internet-of-things/ 

-Rob

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The traditional model for enterprise IT systems is centralized: data is brought in from the network ‘edge’ to the ‘center’ – latterly to the cloud – where all the smart thinking happens. Thanks to robotics, extended reality, artificial intelligence and connected devices, this model is being shaken up. This new generation of technology is overhauling existing infrastructures towards a balance of cloud and edge computing, and driving a renewed focus on hardware to deliver intelligence everywhere.

Dealing with data at volume

This approach makes sense operationally. Current predictions suggest that by 2020, smart sensors and other internet of things (IoT) devices will generate at least 507.5 zettabytes of data. Due to the sheer volume of this data, shifting it all to the cloud for computation is becoming increasingly limiting. Instead, businesses are looking to leverage special-purpose and customizable hardware to make more energy efficient and powerful devices at the edge of their networks. Smart technologies and solutions are, therefore, increasingly moving into physical environments.

This shift is taking place across a wide variety of industries. Wherever you look, industry-specific IoT offerings are dispersing data across the network and creating new business models in the process: smart sensors in distributed utility grids and industrial equipment, for example, are propelling everything from predictive maintenance services to workforce safety monitoring solutions.

This ‘internet of thinking’ is also driving unprecedented efficiencies. For example, we recently worked with a European facilities management company, VINCI Facilities, to seize a competitive advantage by transforming its operations with leading-edge technologies and disruptive digital services based on Oracle Cloud technologies.

In one project, the company rolled out intelligent sensors to measure workspace temperature and workers’ presence in a given space. The data helped the company provide a higher comfort to facility occupants and optimize cleaning interventions and energy consumption costs. The company also deployed a wearable device solution to remotely monitor its clients’ workforces, reduce liability and promote safety by ingesting data from workers’ wearable devices. The solution monitors worker vitals and maps employees based on altitude and other factors to mitigate risk and improve working conditions.

Similarly, Accenture developed a wearable offering for the hospitality industry that employs intelligent staffing by tracking when the housekeeping crew has finished cleaning and preparing rooms. It plugs into back-end systems built on Oracle systems, and provides data such as the time taken to prepare a room for a guest. This data is combined with metrics around room size for more effective deployment of housekeeping staff, driving increased operating efficiency.

Focus on hardware

To deploy such intelligent networks, organizations must renew their focus on hardware. For years, companies were sold the benefits of cloud computing and software-driven solutions; and for many these became go-to service delivery models. This approach shouldn’t be abandoned, but businesses also need to consider hardware as an alternative for specific solutions where intelligence at the edge adds value. To that end, we worked with Oracle to develop a joint IoT reference architecture, which combines Accenture’s base architecture for IoT with the Oracle IoT Cloud Service and PaaS and SaaS capabilities. It accelerates the delivery of these intelligent networks with purpose-built industry solutions across a variety of areas included under our core Accenture IoT Offerings.

Companies are well aware of this requirement: our Technology Vision for Oracle 2018 survey reveals that 63 percent of executives believe it will be critical over the next two years to leverage custom hardware and hardware accelerators to meet the computing demands of intelligent environments. A further 83 percent agreed that edge infrastructure will speed the maturity of many technologies. 

Towards intelligent environments

The imperative is therefore clear: businesses need to act now to incorporate hardware-focused skills into their workforce alongside the cloud-first skills they have nurtured over the past decade. Without this shift, it will be difficult for organizations to benefit fully from the revolutionary technologies of AI and robotics.

The task isn’t easy: businesses will need to rethink their processes, strategy, service design and hardware considerations, but for those that get it right the rewards are promising: smarter, more efficient and more agile business systems and processes. Those that delay may find it hard to catch up.

Photo by Sam Hetterich on Unsplash

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The internet of things is huge right now. Where is it headed? What is the future of IoT? Take a look at our infographic to understand what exactly the internet of things is and some intriguing statistics on where it is headed.
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The dream of making money with IoT, AI and Blockchain

Have you ever think about how could you make money with the Internet of Things (IoT) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) and of course with Blockchain?  What would happen if you could use the three of them in a new business model?.  Apparently, Success, Success and Success.

In the next sections I provide information of some business models implemented with these three technologies.

IoT Business Models

As IoT moves past its infancy, certain trends and economic realities are becoming clear. Perhaps the most significant of those is the realisation that traditional hardware business models just don’t work in IoT. Take a look at “The top 5 most successful IoT business models” that have emerged as particularly effective applications for IoT.

If any of you is building an IoT product, this article ” IoT Business Models For Monetizing Your IoT Product”  show how to make money with IoT.

Zack Supalla, the founder and CEO of Particle, an Internet of Things (IoT) startup, suggest “6 ways to make money in IoT”.

Finally, in “How IoT is Spawning Better Business Models” we can read three ways companies like Rolls Royce, Peloton, MTailor or STYR Lab  was rethinking their business model and have created revolution in the marketplace. 

Blockchain Business Models 

It sounds repetitive, but yes "Blockchain technology may disrupt the existing business models”. The authors´ s findings concerning the implications of blockchain technology for business models are summarised in the following picture.

 

Do you think that blockchain will likely to cut into big-players’ revenues? Then, this article: “New Blockchain-Based Business Models Set to Disrupt Facebook and Others”, is for you.

If you are ambitious and you are planning to build a viable business on blockchain, then read “Building an International Business Model on Blockchain”.

I am also an advocate of the coming era of decentralization (at least in my most optimistic version) and Blockchain is a step more to create value when the End of All Corporate Business Models will arrive.

AI Business Models 

Companies from all industries, of all shapes and sizes are thus faced with an important set of questions: Which AI business models and applications can I use ? And what technologies and infrastructures are required?.

It seems that we all are convinced that artificial intelligence is now the most important general-purpose technology in the world that can drive changes at existing business models. Not surprised then, that  AI is Revolutionizing Business Models.  The “data trap” strategy, that in venture capitalist Matt Turck’s words consists of offering (often for free) products that can initialize a data network effect. In addition, the user experience and the design are becoming tangibly relevant for AI, and this creates friction in early stage companies with limited resources to be allocated between engineers, business, and design.

This article introduces  some good examples of AI business models :

New Business models with the intersection of IoT, AI and Blockchain

With IoT we are connecting the Digital to the Physical world. Connected objects offers a host of new opportunities for companies, especially in terms of creating new services. The amount of data generated by the billions of connected objects will be the perfect complementary feed to many AI applications. Finally, blockchain technology could be used to secure the ‘internet of things’ and create smart contracts in a decentralized infrastructure that boost the democratization of technology and creation of sustainable communities.

You must remember that new business models that include IoT, AI and blockchain need among other characteristics: Volume and Scalability. Volume of devices, Volume of data, Volume of customers, volume of developers and powerful ecosystems to escalate. 

Good luck in your search and implementation of your new business model.

Thanks for your Likes, Comments and Shares

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We are in the dawn of a new cyber society. A society where organizations shall design plans to utilize the unique skillsets of both AI Systems and humans. A society where Humans and AI systems shall work and live together and without fear. A society where humans shall use newfound time and freedom to advance strategic skills and individual talents.
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As the Global PM and CTO for Lumada, it's been a rewarding journey to create a portable Industrial #IoT platform that could run at the Edge on a factory floor, in a train, inside a data center or in any hyper-scale public cloud.

This composable platform (use just what you need for your specific use case) combined with our revolutionary Asset Avatars (Digital Twins) that bring Lumada to life, is the very definition of "Visionary." I also want to send a big congratulations to our Visionary friends at PTC (ThingWorx) and SAP (Leonardo).

Our #Lumada #IIoT platform coupled w/ our IoT Hardware Appliance takes you from #Edge to #Cloud.

Thanks to all the Hitachi collaborators, colleagues and friends I was lucky enough to take this journey with.

Get a free copy of the Gartner report here:
https://www.hitachivantara.com/ext/gartner-magic-quadrant-for-industrial-iot.html

-Rob

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Today, retail stores are constantly focusing on leveraging the emerging technologies like cloud, mobile, RFID, beacons, etc., to provide connected retail services and better shopping experience to customers. For example, store owners are integrating sensors in the key zones of retail stores and connecting them to cloud through a gateway that enables real-time data analysis related to products, sales, and customers from these sensors.

Interestingly, IoT and connected technologies are taking the retail industry by storm. 96% retailers are ready to make changes required to implement the Internet of Things in their stores

IoT in retail can help retailers improve store operations, enhance customer experience and drive more conversions. Moreover, IoT can help retailers solve day-to-day problems such as tracking energy utilization, managing in-floor navigation, detecting crowded areas, reducing check out timings, managing product shelves, preventing theft, monitoring goods, etc. Let us how IoT helps in few of these scenarios.

 

 

In-Store Navigation with IoT-enabled Devices

Identifying in-store navigation is one of the common problems in retail stores. Here, IoT devices with integrated technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, magnetic positions and augmented reality, etc., can facilitate in-store navigation to help customers navigate through the store and find the desired product.

It gives customers a multichannel shopping experience through digitization of physical assets. In-store navigation also helps increase the path to purchase rate before a product stock outs.

Example:
Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons are small sensors placed strategically throughout the retail store. These sensors are equipped with Bluetooth smart technology and compatible with smartphones. This BLE beacon device sends out continuous radio signals to nearby smart devices in the range. Smart devices in that range catch the signal and trigger events such as availability of a new product or launch of a new offer. Further, that device sends a unique ID to cloud server. The server checks that ID and responds back, through which communication between signal and smart device is established using a unique ID. Almost all customers nowadays carry smart devices like mobile phones and tablets. If BLE is used, customers can be notified on their smartphone with personalized coupons and deals as soon as they enter the store.

The above solution improves customer’s in-store experience and also increases footfall ratio. It also facilitates quick product search and increases conversion rates while generating a powerful shopping environment that can help enhance product offerings and store layouts.

Energy Management with Smart Devices

Energy consumption is a major cost consuming factor for the retail businesses, be it in refrigeration, lighting, heating, air conditioning, etc. Using these energy sources efficiently can bring cost saving of up to 20 percent per year. IoT-enabled smart devices can help resolve problems of energy management and saving.

There are several IoT-based platforms that can log, monitor and beep alarms or alert the in-store personnel about temperature, energy usage, heating, gas leakage, electricity breakdowns, etc., with the help of integrated sensors. Using these smart energy management devices, store owners can directly interact with the controllers of refrigerators and retrieve prioritized information with the help of sensors.

Example:
Every year, a large retail chain attributes nearly $2B of loss to wasted or spoiled food, with issues relating to its legacy refrigeration system, accounting for approximately 15% of this total—or $300 mm. In case of emergency situations like powercut or excessive heating, alarms from the controllers of these refrigeration systems reach the operations team only after 5 or 6 hours, and there is no mechanism to provide warnings before these situations occur. Here smart refrigeration IoT device can provide cloud-based temperature monitoring solution to notify the controllers about emergencies using temperature sensors and mesh networking technology.

Theft Prevention with Geo-Fencing

The crime of shoplifting in the retail industry is increasing day-by-day, because retailers fail to provide sufficient attention to shoplifters. According to National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), more than $25 million worth of merchandise gets stolen from retail shops each day. Adding more to retailers’ loss is retail shrinkage, which includes shoplifting, employe theft, paperwork error, vendor fraud and many more.

To overcome the problem of shoplifting and retail shrinkage, retailers can use Geo-fencing technique.
Geo-fencing relies on the global positioning system or a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that allows a store operator to create a virtual barrier or zone around specific locations in retail shops. When a customer tries to move product from the specific location, an alert is triggered and a message is sent to the store in-charge. Geo-fencing enabled in IoT devices or beacons can help retailers in a number of ways; from keeping goods safe, tracking customers and employee movements, managing company-owned resources to minimizing incidents of theft and loss.

Customer Engagement with Sensor-Enabled Shopping Carts

The sensor-enabled shopping cart is a technique adopted by most of the retail merchandisers. These shopping carts help retailers grow their business in every aspect by helping them visualize shopper’s flows by category/subcategory, understand the shopping pattern, analyze the dwell path, and enable faster checkout.

This smart cart design involves sensors with connectivity protocols around the cart, which have the ability to track the movement of the wheels and match up with the distance the cart has traveled. It helps retailers with an accurate data of shopping carts with the inside-store journey. The data from this cart can be sent to the server or to cloud for further analysis.

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Advancements in IoT technologies have enabled machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and collection of relevant data. Predictive maintenance solutions leverage such data and IoT technologies, to help companies reduce costs of maintenance by adopting a proactive approach. This approach is proving to be a value-add solution. This is because, IoT enabled Predictive Maintenance solutions help shop-floors, assembly lines and other industrial or enterprise set-ups to avoid sudden machine failures and related operational delays.
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