“Everything we have of value will be connected to the internet.” IDC
Interactions with customers will be quicker and easier; enhancing the customer experience and increasing their loyalty. For example in the waiting room, visitors to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser or mechanic can check in with their mobile device. In return, they can be served information and offers while they wait.
When all data is transferred from one machine to another machine, manual data entry will be a thing of the past, and so will data-entry errors. From customer records to credit card details, information can be exchanged and approved in seconds, making transactions simpler, faster and more efficient.
Machines which are continually monitored and remotely controlled will always operate at their optimum, to deliver maximum productivity with the most efficient use of energy and raw materials. IoT will also free workers to undertake tasks that make the best use of their skills, while connected machines carry out repetitive, time-consuming jobs such as inventory management.
In many industries, automation and efficiency go hand-in-hand. Using IoT, smaller businesses can benefit from the automation of critical functions such as stock re-ordering. When stock runs low, the embedded device automatically re-orders, so consumable supplies never run out.
What are your customers buying, and when? Which products are selling best, and where? Essential information can be gathered automatically to make your business more responsive, more flexible and more efficient.
Whether you operate a delivery fleet, a fleet of sales reps out on the road, or a fleet of hire cars, you can track the vehicles and track the drivers’ habits, to optimise utilisation, routes, fuel consumption and maintenance.
From something as simple as eliminating double-booked meeting rooms, to something as complex as allocating production-line machines to products, IoT will make the process easier, more effective and less prone to error.
Production equipment, cows, even people can be remotely monitored by sensors connected to the internet. Monitoring production equipment enables proactive maintenance. Monitoring cows enables early warning of illness, or birth. Monitoring people can allow the elderly to live independently even as they became more infirm, or enable patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease to manage them out of the hospital environment, with only remote medical intervention.
All buildings consume energy for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. Monitoring, capturing and analysing data from these systems, and automating their operation, can make them more energy efficient and help reduce a business’s energy costs. Reduced energy use also means reduced environmental impact – important for CSR policy commitments.
In addition to energy management, buildings made ‘smarter’ through IoT applications can incorporate alarm systems and security cameras which are monitored and activated automatically or remotely. The continuous monitoring and predictive capability of IoT-enabled buildings can also enable pro-active repair and maintenance, and lower insurance premiums. Specialised weather sensors can provide advance warnings of adverse weather, from floods to hurricanes.
To facilitate on-the-spot, in-person credit card transactions on the go, all that’s needed is a card reader linked to a mobile POS service, and a smartphone or wireless-enabled tablet able to access wireless data.
The content of digital signage can be managed remotely and tailored to its location, and even to its changing environment. For example, relevant content can be triggered when prospective customers use their mobile device in the vicinity.
Self-service vending machines are nothing new, but being able to buy from them without cash is. IoT not only makes cashless purchases possible, but also helps to simplify operations and reduce costs by monitoring and reporting sales data, inventory status and equipment maintenance requirements, in real time.
Asset location, inventory and shipments can be tracked in real time, for more accurate control, improved inventory management and reduced risk of loss or theft.
Working with your chosen IoT partner, identify your objectives and map out the roll-out process. This will help you to stay on track, within budget and expected timeframes for delivery.
What do you need from your IoT partner now, and after the technology is up and running? Is there a training requirement for your staff?
Don’t risk skimping on the investment required to complete the integration stage successfully; it can require a sizeable slice of the project’s budget.
M2M and IoT offer OPEX cost models, however if you need to invest in any new infrastructure to support the technology, you will have created a CAPEX element to your project.
The opportunities are vast and it’s easy to be bowled over by the possibilities. You don’t want to risk your first application of this technology by being over-ambitious. On the other hand, an entrepreneurial mindset can bring a host of new benefits if you convert your aspirations into tangible results. The application of M2M and IoT is limited only by your imagination.