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An Executive's Guide to Enterprise Digital Transformation with IoT

By Special Guest
Nika Vartanova, Mobility Researcher at Iflexion
June 10, 2019

In 2018, PwC reported that 31 billion IoT devices will be used by enterprises in 2020, with this number rising to 75.4 billion in 2025, showing the IoT trend is not slowing down. The same report highlighted that 80 percent of the CEOs surveyed believe that in 2018 IoT was crucial to at least some part of their business.

IoT implementation is clearly growing, with more and more businesses seeking new solutions; however, for those encountering the technology for the first time or lacking technological background, it can at first be a challenge to grasp the true benefits of IoT for their businesses. Let’s discover more about IoT and how the latest solutions can be applied to enterprises.

Where IoT Finds Its Industry Applications
Below are some examples of how IoT is enhancing the capabilities of businesses in various sectors:

  • Transport: management and maintenance. For example, automatic on/off road illumination, monitoring of road and bridge conditions, and tracking traffic jams in real time. This helps logistics companies optimize the journeys of their drivers, allowing for a potential increase in deliveries handled, safer routes, or ensuring time-sensitive products, such as fresh produce, are delivered on time.
  • Healthcare: remote diagnostics and illness prevention. For example, tracking patients’ health conditions in real time through digital wristbands, and health-report generation based on examinations. This allows healthcare facilities to combine a patient-physician approach, allowing greater health cooperation. In addition, illnesses may be detected and treated earlier, thus reducing costs.
  • Manufacturing: process optimization. For example, the prevention of unplanned downtime, managing supply chains, and production process optimization. Companies will be able to reduce costs of unnecessary maintenance, fix issues before they cause downtime, and make the overall process more effective.
  • Finance: insurance telematics and cash collection surveillance. For example, a black-box device can track a driver’s style and transfer this data to the insurance company. For customers, insurance prices will reflect a driver’s individual abilities without tying them to generalized statistical data (age, gender, etc.). In turn, the insurance company will be able to hedge their risk against unsafe drivers.
  • Construction: automation and security. For example, IoT can monitor on-site equipment and provide data on its safety at any given time. This may be helpful in monitoring structural integrity during the building process, allowing for increased safety and ensuring the construction has been carried out correctly. In addition, health condition sensors such as wristbands can monitor workers’ health status and mitigate health issues in the workplace, increasing worker safety and providing feedback if more staff are required for the job due to overwork.

How IoT Helps Businesses Put Their Data to Use
As these emerging industrial IoT applications are coming to large enterprises, this has led to an increase in the demand for enterprise mobile app development. Managed via mobile sensors and devices, enterprise-grade IoT networks turn into full-fledged data ecosystems—and that’s exactly what is expected of them.

IoT devices collect and pass on data to IoT apps, which then analyze and systemize it to provide the business with insights, helping to increase revenue and improve operational processes. IoT can enable:

  • Real-time monitoring

With IoT integration into machinery, equipment, buildings and departments, it becomes possible to monitor the surroundings, environment, production processes and equipment conditions in real time. Monitoring helps detect problems and take measures at the right moment.

  • Real-time analytics

Switching from manual reports to automatically-generated ones, collected from connected devices, reduces the number of mistakes and speeds up problem detection and solving. The data can be represented in the form of handy spreadsheets or visual charts. Moreover, with real-time analytics, you can forecast events, such as equipment depreciation, and plan production volumes.

  • Trouble-free maintenance and access

IoT software unites the enterprise-wide devices and sensors into a single interconnected system. This allows companies to optimize their maintenance needs by detecting faults as early as possible. In addition, IoT reduces the need for unnecessary maintenance, optimizing both maintenance schedules and expenditures.

  • Challenges of IoT implementation

While the advantages of engaging IoT technology are substantial, enterprises seeking to introduce the technology should be aware of the challenges as well. Depending on your industry and how you engage IoT, you may face the following:

  • Security issues

With the growing popularity of IoT, the number of cyber-attacks is also rising. Nowadays, almost any device connected to the internet is exposed to the risk of being hacked. In addition, as with any cloud-based data storage, sufficient data protection needs to be taken into account too. As a result, security becomes of high priority for IT engineers developing IoT. Although IoT systems are equipped with rather reliable protection, prioritizing security is always a sensible step to take, and the one which should be considered from the beginning of your IoT journey.

  • Network coverage

IoT systems require internet access to function––whether directly or during a sync. This means you’ll need a reliable Wi-Fi connection. The more devices are installed, the more investments, such as into hardware, broadband plans, and staff, are demanded.

  • Ongoing software maintenance

IoT is a complex technology, so in order to ensure it functions appropriately in your business, you may need a qualified team of IT specialists to develop and maintain the software. This may mean drafting in a reliable outsourcing partner or adding maintenance professionals to your internal IT team.

  • Data management

IoT solutions deliver a lot of data to organizations, and for many this presents its own unique challenges. Finding ways to manage and utilize the generated data requires a plan to be in place. You may need to engage the services of data scientists or engineers to get to grips with the meaning of the data you’ve received and how to use it for your company’s future development.

Does Your Business Need IoT?
How do you decide if your business needs IoT? Here are some things to consider:

  • Your enterprise manufactures a wide range of products, components, and/or accessories
  • You need to ensure quality in the manufacturing process, or you need to decrease the volume of product defects           
  • Your systems and equipment in use require maintenance
  • You need to lower operational costs
  • Your production processes consume large amounts of energy, and it needs to be optimized
  • You need to ensure your staff’s high level of productivity
  • You need to increase safety for your staff and wish to automate accordingly
  • You need to unite your equipment into one operating system

The reasons for including IoT into your business can be potentially endless; currently, many business areas can be optimized with this technology. Your role is to evaluate which areas of your enterprise would benefit the most and ensure you are ready for the change.

Conditions Your Business Needs to Deploy IoT
IoT technology is one of the latest technologies helping businesses optimize how they work. However, there is a number of conditions your business will need to consider before adopting the technology:

  1. Prepare for the setup––find an IoT software engineering provider or hire in-house specialists and plan your strategy.
  2. Ensure you have adequate resources for ongoing maintenance.
  3. Make sure your business accounts for the funding needed for the entire IoT initiative process––from initial design, rollout, troubleshooting to maintenance.
  4. Prepare for problem-solving since some hiccups are inevitable along the way, and you need to know in advance how to cope with them to ensure success.
  5. Choose the devices which speak ‘the same language’ and use the same type of protocols for their synchronization.
  6. Provide your staff with extra courses on learning how to filter and adequately interpret IoT data.
  7. Ensure that you know well how exactly IoT implementation can benefit your company, with respect to revenue and production output.

 The Final Word on IoT
The question with IoT technology is no longer if your business needs to transform digitally; it’s when and how you’re going to do it. IoT offers many benefits for companies seeking to upgrade and optimize their processes to achieve higher levels of efficiency and productivity.

That’s doesn’t mean that all businesses should rush to jump on the IoT bandwagon. The best IoT strategy involves carefully designed plans, software, and hardware to ensure success.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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