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Master the
complexities
of building an
IoT solution

Myles Gardiner
IoT Sales Manager, Three

IoT is set to become a €7 trillion market by 2020. In order to reap the benefits of this technology, enterprises need to develop a robust use case that's pertinent to their business and their industry. For business leaders beginning to look at IoT, Myles Gardiner, IoT Sales Manager at Three, outlines his five best practices to ensure a successful IoT project.

Identify a use case

Today there is no shortage of innovative IoT use cases; from telematics and fleet management to smart building energy management solutions, Irish businesses are embracing the potential of IoT to make a real difference. While there are numerous potential applications, the key to any successful IoT project is applying the right IoT solution to the right challenge or opportunity.

The key to any
successful IoT project is applying the right IoT solution to the right challenge or
opportunity.

There is the temptation, on seeing a successful IoT use case in action, to want to apply it to your business, but Myles advises not to focus on the technology from the outset. “Put the technology to one side at the beginning and look at what you want to achieve, whether it's automating a process, reducing operational costs, enhancing customer interaction or creating a new business model. The initial goal is to identify the problem or challenge you need to solve or the opportunity you want to realise. Only once that is established should you move on to determine an IoT solution to meet that need.”

Build a business case

“It's important to understand how any solution will impact the business and its people”

At this stage you should ask a number of important questions: what is the business goal of the IoT solution; how will its success be determined; what the return on investment ROI will be; what effect will it have on existing systems, processes, customers and employees? “Building the business case is as much about change management as it is about the solution,” Myles says. “For an IoT project to be successful all relevant stakeholders need to be consulted up front. It's important to understand how any solution will impact the business and its people. It's worth speaking with stakeholders as early as possible in the process so they are engaged with the project and can see the benefits any solution would deliver.”

Test and pilot

“Testing is a necessary phase of any IoT implementation. You should run an internal pilot of the solution followed by a small scale roll out. A retailer rolling out digital signage and IoT, for example, should trial it initially in one store. Seeing the solution in action in the real world means they can see if it's doing everything they expect it to do. Working with companies trialing IoT projects we’ve seen firsthand how the data derived from a pilot can often deliver both expected and unexpected insights,” says Myles. “You can't predict exactly how a solution will work, particularly once you bring the human element into it. That's why these trial runs are so important and they can really throw up some useful information.”

For example, one of our clients, a home security provider, identified that their customers were reluctant to sign up to an alarm monitoring service. An opportunity was identified to develop a mobile application, for their customers to remotely manage their alarms. By establishing this new model, it revealed that customers were happy to monitor their alarms remotely. This in turn provided the business with a new service revenue stream, which has delivered a significant return on investment.

Successfully scale your IoT project

If you are to roll out an IoT solution across your organisation, you need to be confident that it will scale. To do so it must be able to cope with a large number of connected devices and grow as the business requires without any loss in reliability. In short, the IoT solution needs to be future-proofed and be capable of growing with the business without a requirement for a whole new system.

“A large IoT deployment will obviously mean collecting and analysing huge amounts of data. This is where a strong IoT partner will prove to be of real value. They will understand what's required and will build a robust IoT system that can organically grow as the business needs it,” says Myles. “For companies that are looking to take an IoT solution global, we advise that they seek out a partner that can offer multi-network capabilities. This would maximise device connectivity, which is a vital component in an enterprise's global IoT plans.”

Next-generation loyalty

Expert Panel Comment
Logo of retail excellence

“Concepts like artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, facial recognition and the digital store will be central to the retail sector’s transformation over the next 10 years. We’re already seeing evidence of retail’s future arriving today. The Amazon Go store in San Francisco offers checkout-free shopping where in-store customers are identified via facial recognition, and their Amazon accounts are billed once they’ve left the store. Amazon now plans the roll-out of similar Go stores in London.”

Bryan Rankin,
Head of Policy,
Retail Exellence

profile of Bryan Rankin

Loyalty programmes are a fixture of Irish retail, but are they winning the hearts and minds of the newest generation of shoppers? The secret here is likely to be better personalisation. Shoppers are more likely to be drawn to targeted offers, rather than the run-of-the-mill “buy nine and the 10th is free” type. Of course when data gathering for personalisation, data protection must be prioritised, but shoppers are usually happy to opt-in and share personal data and preferences in exchange for offers that hit the mark.

The war of survival in retail will be fought on the data battlefield. Amazon’s physical shops include “four-star” stores which only stock merchandise that has been rated four-stars or above by customers online. How can you mine your data for innovation? The Internet of Things (IoT), with in-store beacons and smart sensors, is helping retailers amass telling data about dwell times and purchase behaviours. Such in-store technology, for instance, could reveal to a CIO that shoppers tend to leave aisles six and eight with nothing in their basket, while other locations fare better. The data generated in-store can also be paired with data from online customers for a truly insightful and holistic view.

“With the digitalisation of retail, we are encouraging our retail customers to think innovatively, look to global retail leaders for inspiration and plan for the long-term,” said Karl Duffy, Three’s Head of Enterprise and Public Sector. “Digital-first retailers like Amazon are taking a large portion of the online spend, but retailers can take heart from the fact that Amazon is opening physical retail outlets. Irish retailers can compete if they get the technology right.”

For companies that are
looking
to take an IoT solution global, we advise that they seek out a partner that can offer multi-network capabilities.

Establish strategic partnerships to fill the IoT skills gap

IoT projects are complex, with many elements that all need to work together; but 60% of enterprises substantially underestimate the complexities of building an IoT solution. For the most part companies will not have the necessary IoT skills in-house to bring a project through to completion. A trusted partner can play a valuable role; they can fill any gaps in expertise and help to deliver a successful IoT project. An experienced IoT partner will know what success looks like; they'll know what use cases are likely to work in different sectors drawing on their track record. They can also recognise early if there are warning signs: it's possible to tell in a short time span whether the project will deliver against its objectives.

“Working with a strategic partner can be an advantage to enterprises. While there are specialist companies that build IoT solutions focusing on specific verticals, there are very few companies that deliver an end to end solution. Given the complexity of an IoT undertaking, enterprises will gain a distinct advantage by working with a partner that can bring them through the entire process from the initial starting point right through to building the solutions and analysing the data,” concludes Myles.

Next Steps

Talk to an expert from our Business Advisory team today on 1800 330 303.

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