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The way businesses are carried out today has changed at the fundamental level with IoT. By connecting sensors and devices with the internet, we have reached a new height of progress and innovation, which was not previously possible. This new height is all about data connectivity, analytics, and automation. In the coming times, we will see more of IoT enabled devices and systems getting common in our lives due to the traction gained in terms of home automation and industries. The industries which understand the potential of IoT implementation are more likely to flourish and drive innovation in the niche during the next decade.

What is IoT?

IoT stands for Internet of Things which can be called as a network of physical objects which communicate and interact with each other as well as their environment through an internet connection. This simply means that with more number of devices around us being connected over the internet, it will enable companies to control them remotely, collect more amounts of data as well as enable automation.

The effect of IoT has increased drastically across different industries today. The way IoT has revolutionized them and is playing a key role in its progress has to be well noted.

IoT in Manufacturing

The contribution of IoT in the manufacturing industry is very high and you can say that it is the one that enjoys the highest IoT investment. The investment is taking place at two levels. One is working towards cost reduction and optimizing systems called as inward facing and the other is towards improving customer usage called as outward facing. 

Manufacturers are making use of IoT to carry on predictive maintenance, optimize their processes and to monitor equipment. In order to enhance the productivity and efficiency of manufacturing operations, the use of IoT devices in terms of smart manufacturing is playing a huge role. Smart manufacturing is all about making the existing manufacturing equipment equipped with sensors. This may not be required with the new manufacturing equipment as they have such sensors pre-installed. 

Smart planning is all about offering the supply chain with the smart floor. Information can be captured in real-time and actionable insights can be put to use. Smart manufacturing is all about covering each and every area in manufacturing, which includes plant operations, inventory control product design, demand & supply management, etc. With smart manufacturing, manufacturers get complete visibility of the business which helps them to optimize the supply and demand chain while streamlining the business processes. 

IoT in Transportation

If we try to look into IoT investment, then you will find that IoT holds the second highest position in this arena. One of the best gifts that we have from IoT is self-driving cars. Some of the big names in the industry like Uber, BMW, Ford, GM, and Google have been heavily investing in this area to make use of innovative technologies to come up with self-driving cars. Such kind of self-driving cars will simplify transportation, reduce pollution and even save more lives by preventing accidents. 

More number of public transportation and freight vehicles is using sensors to optimize fuel consumption, schedule maintenance and fleet management. Even some of the vehicles come with digital data recorders which record driving under heavy acceleration so as to indicate the driver of any fatal accidents which might occur. 

IoT in Agriculture

By using IoT technologies, farming and agriculture have been able to make greater benefits. With the help of IoT device installations, the farmers are able to collect valuable data which reveals about their livestock and crops in a number of ways. They can survey land using drones and even measure the resources available on the farms. When all these things come together, it helps the farmers with a new way of carrying out things like precision farming. The role of IoT in agriculture and farming will increase significantly as the demand for food keeps on increasing. 

IoT impacting Healthcare

As per many experts, it has been said that the healthcare industry is going to be one of the main areas where spending on IoT will be considerably high. We already have a number of equipment which does things in a better way like share patient reports and images, helps with ICU management, real-time location systems, finding problems and troubleshooting and medicine dispensing. It is possible for IoT to streamline the data coming from medical service providers and send them back with the help of technologies like mobility solutions and wearables. 

When medical devices are connected with IoT sensors, the doctors will get right information delivered that too with reduced errors. This positively affects the quality of service and diagnosis process. The use of smart beds is also increasing across a number of hospitals. Such beds are capable of sensing the patient and adjusting it automatically so as to offer proper support. 

Improving patient care at homes is possible using IoT applications. Smart medication dispensers can notify the patient automatically when it is time to take the medicines and can also be used to upload the reports on the cloud platform for the doctors to check and make changes in the dose. 

IoT has proved itself and so it is going to stay here for a long time. The use of IoT across the healthcare industry will keep improving as they are looking for better ways to leverage technology so as to improve efficiency. With data sharing becoming simpler in the coming times, the use of IoT applications across the sector will grow too. 

IoT in Retail

What if one day you don’t have to worry about the shortage of supplies in your fridge? What if it can order the items on its own when the stock in the fridge starts to go low? The potential of IoT in the retail industry is high. It is time for us to face smart retailing. A smart supply chain which is based on IoT already exists. There are applications for automated delivery systems, real-time inventory management, product tracking, auto-billing, etc. and here, new trends are visible fast. 

With a smart retail store, it is possible to analyze and understand the shopping journey of the customers through footfalls. Earlier, businesses carried out long surveys to understand the market demands and this was an expensive affair. Now the use of foot-traffic monitoring has increased as a part of smart stores to analyze the areas where the customer is having a problem with finding goods and which are the best selling products. This way it will become possible to assign an executive to the customer so as to help with quick shopping. Based on store traffic monitoring, businesses can improve the in-store shopping experience. This way, by making use of mobile devices, retailers will have a better chance to engage customers and implement new digital marketing strategies. 

With the online marketplace growing exponentially, retailers are looking for ways to grab the attention of the customers and bring them to their stores. For the same, they need to get their hand on data and analytics, which can help them increase footfalls. Based on the data and analytics, IoT can help retailers make the right decisions. Keeping it short, retailers should focus on using IoT applications which can be used to serve the customers in an enhanced manner. 

IoT in Fintech

When we talk of fintech businesses or financial services organizations, their main concern is security. This is the reason why they depend on the network of visual sensors and cameras, which can offer them reliable facilities. When it comes to IoT deployment, the financial services organizations are quite good in numbers and even they are good at visual analytics adoption. Financial companies are going for mobile phones as their endpoint choice along with sensors and cameras. When it comes to IoT implementation, financial forms have many goals to achieve, but the main one is to have better connectivity for their networks as well as employ greater security for their services. 

IoT in Smart Homes & Buildings

IoT has greatly influenced the way we live and work. If we talk about living space, IoT has brought to light the concept of the smart home automation system. This system is all about different connected products which work towards making life more convenient, more comfortable and more pleasant. By using intelligent homes, it becomes possible for the homeowners to build up a pleasant environment within the four walls while working towards efficient energy management and enhanced security through proper customization. To build and monitor smart homes, a number of IoT technologies are available. 

Some of the leading consumer product manufacturing companies in the market are Philips, Haier, and Amazon. You can get news headlines to read to you while you are working, by asking Alexa, the voice assistant of Amazon Echo. 

A perfect example of a smart home design is Philips Hue. This bulb offers you 600 to 800 color lumens to choose from. It can change based on your mood. This product is compatible with other smart home platforms like Apple’s iPhone Home Kit and Amazon Echo. 

In the coming years, the number of smart home devices is going to go high. The smart appliances will includes washing machines, refrigerators, TV, dryers, etc. Then you have smart home energy equipment which provides for thermostats and smart lighting while smart home security systems which include cameras, sensors, alarm systems, etc. Saving energy and reduction in electricity costs can be seen as the major advantage of IoT implementation in smart home concept. 

IoT impact on energy

One of the early adopters of IoT is the utility industry. It is possible to make a better recording of energy consumption using smart meters. This will help the companies offering utility services to efficiently and accurately bill their customers based on consumption. 

Moreover, with the help of smart meters, it will become possible to track down and send back to the grid the amount of energy the users of green technologies consume. And based on that, credit them and pay some incentives as a part of encouraging them towards using environment-friendly options. 

Conclusion

If you are looking for the next level of automation, then IoT is the answer. In the coming time, IoT implementation will become more comfortable with the innovation of new technologies and it will make things faster and secure too. This makes life better at home, as well as at work. IoT is adding in more and more things to the digital environment and it is to make everything easy right from smart kitchen to smart offices, smart traffic to smart parking spaces.

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You being short-sighted 

I do not mean the ophthalmological condition but an approach of believing in things which are close to you only. Often big multinational companies pursuing IoT projects interview customers situated in the same region or country of their location neglecting the fact that the customer located some 5000 km away might have a different opinion. Developing IoT products or services considering only these interviews and later trying to roll them out across the world is like what Henry Ford once said: “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants as long as it is black”. 

A more practical approach would be to ask the sales offices worldwide to get these interviews in their region and then consolidate the ideas. This will later result in a new product portfolio which will have at least “something” for everybody.

 

You are creating IoT-dictatorships within your organization

Having a CDO or IoT Lead at a place is a must if you want to ensure the harmonized implementation of IoT initiatives. However, giving him or her, the complete responsibility of rolling out these initiatives within the organization isn’t a clever move. In a worse case, you will see only those topics being implemented which suit his/her opinion. Better would be to have steering community in a place where experts from different work division or function come together and discuss different IoT projects. Later they decide on which ones to implement and which ones to leave out.

With the support of steering community, the CDO then orchestrates the complete development and harmonized implementation of these projects. Leave some space for feedback from various levels of the organization. This way you can make sure that your IoT portfolio has topics that represent each division or function of your company.

Remember, IoT is what is going to revolutionize your company vertically and horizontally with every employee contributing to it. Hence it cannot be a “one man show”.

 

You are not communicating your IoT initiative appropriately within the organization

Do your colleagues in far east know about your IoT initiatives? Or do you know what IoT topics they are discussing or projects they are working on? If “No” is the answer to both, then there is something wrong with the organizational communication and hence company’s central IoT strategy. This will result in organization-wide “silos” with each region taking their IoT initiatives.

One may argue that different regions have different needs and hence there is nothing wrong with having customized IoT solutions. But what about organizational and legal aspects of these solutions? Are the local sales and support solely responsible for the projects they sell? Who will take responsibility if issues like data safety, data ownership, system availability come up? These or similar questions can be quickly addressed if there is an IoT steering committee in place which not only defines the roles and responsibilities but ensures the proper (as well as regular) communication of organizational IoT initiatives in the all the regions of their operation.

 

The jobs within your company are getting redundant.

You run a service company and offer service, maintenance and inspection of some specialized machines. For this, you have a team of competent mechanical and electric engineers who inspect these machines and interact with customer/person responsible on a regular basis. This gives your customer a sense of security regarding service reliability and availability of his devices.

One day you decide to IoT-fy the whole service setup by installing a smart sensor on these machines. Now there is no need of sending your guys to the site since they can monitor the machine running status or any abnormal behaviour from their respective offices. You later realize that there is no need of having 20-30 individuals to carry out monitoring since this can be done by fewer experts. Moreover, you suddenly feel a need of hiring more IT manpower since you cannot expect the middle-aged service engineer to learn IT skills overnight. As a consequence, you decide to replace mechanical engineers with a few IT experts. Your customers might not be much happier with this move since they stop seeing the service engineer who used to visit them regularly.

Creating a change management plan could be a wise move before implementing any IoT project rather than creating redundancies and not knowing how to deal with it. New technology should create more jobs and no layoffs.

 

Your IoT team is not diverse enough.

New technologies need new ideas. That can only be possible if your steering committee consists of a team of experts with different functional/sectoral as well as cultural expertise. The topic of IoT has many facets which can be addressed well by a team capable of seeing the things from different perspectives.

Having a diverse team for such strategically important projects shouldn’t be an issue, especially if the organization has a significant setup and is present globally. It is however still a rare phenomenon for many companies in Europe. Entirely different than what one usually sees in the US.

 

The list of factors hampering a successful rollout of an IoT strategy within an organization could be longer. The likelihood of occurrence of the above-mentioned factors is, however, higher. Therefore you need to plan and act strategically, keeping an eye on the long-term perspective and benefits.  

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