Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Bart Schouw, director of IBO solutions at Software AG, looks at some of the measures companies can implement to benefit from the IoT boom.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has seen a boom in use within the UK and worldwide, leading to a number of business and technological breakthroughs across varying sectors. Despite this recent proliferation, certain adopters of IoT technology are facing an unexpected struggle in their search for meaningful and profitable uses for the mass volume of data it is allowing them to acquire. With the many benefits related to IoT within grasp, companies must adopt personalised algorithms and technology to help them reach out and take hold of the rewards.
Among these rewards are an extraordinary new level of insight into energy consumption, maintenance needs and other information – all made possible through the data provided by IoT-enabled devices. With this information, companies can gain the ability to automate a variety of business decisions, paving the way for increased levels of both operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Context: the key for unlocking automation
In any sort of business setting, one must have as much context as possible in order to make the right decision, and the same goes for automated decisions generated as part of an IoT network. The best place to find this crucial context is in the enterprise data vaults, where information on customers and their profiles, stock levels and other data is typically stored. In order to have a meaningful impact on the business, any decision-making process must be fully integrated with these vaults.
Achieving full integration – and with it more advanced automation – can be achieved through algorithms, which must be made a top priority for any company hoping to achieve a successful transition into digitisation.
Staying competitive with algorithms
Algorithms can allow companies to wield immense amounts of power when it comes to integration and automation. They provide users with the ability to transform the data transmitted from devices in the field into maintenance schedules, inventory requests and other tasks, which can all be planned and executed automatically and at precisely the right moment.
With this in mind, it is crucial that companies looking to go digital and reap the benefits of automation invest appropriately in a solution that is able to provide the complex algorithms necessary to undertake the range of tasks the company needs. In addition, the highly competitive nature of many sectors means that algorithms will periodically evolve to become more useful and efficient. As soon as a competing business is able to see the same results, the competitive advantage provided by an algorithm will be lost and a more powerful algorithm will be required to regain this advantage. Therefore, it is essential that the chosen solution be able to address this fact. Many companies who have already embraced IoT integration have discovered that digitising their business means, essentially, turning their business into an algorithm.
Stepping off the edge of integration
The recent rise of interest and adoption of IoT technology can partly be explained by the increasing numbers of businesses sharing their IoT success stories. Some of the many companies utilising IoT to provide solutions for their business challenges have turned to “innovation on the edge” approaches, which involve funding small IoT-related projects that often provide little or even no return on investment.
A logistics company, for example, might equip some of their vehicles with connected sensors as a pilot project void of any real strategy in regards to long-term implementation of IoT. Although the company would not see any profit from this sort of project, it would grant it some insight into how IoT could potentially fit into the business, allowing them to test the waters before making a more significant investment.
Despite serving their use – specifically for companies unfamiliar with how IoT networks operate – these types of low-price ‘innovation on the edge’ projects could quickly build up in cost. Additionally, remaining in this entry-level stage of implementation for too long can result in a sort of patchwork network – causing significant confusion and cost for the company.
With many competing companies within a range of different sectors already making substantial investments in their own IoT networks, companies practicing ‘innovation on the edge’ strategies are at risk of being left behind.
Steps to success for integration
Once a company begins to realise that this type of innovation in unsustainable and ineffective, they can begin to see the immense value that can be gained through investing in and implementing a comprehensive IoT strategy.
Businesses can become infinitely more robust and more efficient, in terms of both work and cost. By performing an overarching analysis, they can truly do more with less and find real value in integration.
Though the Internet of Things can provide any organisation with a mass volume of useful data, only the companies who take a serious look at implementing and investing in the technology will be able to achieve the full benefits it can provide. Companies must conduct proper preparation, including gathering the necessary context, adopting personalised algorithms and investing appropriate capital in order to build a successful IoT network that can quickly pay for itself through the efficiency, automated decision-making and nearly limitless amount of unique solutions it can provide.
Bart Schouw is the director of Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions within the Global Solutions team of Software AG, where he is responsible for the development and enrichment of the IoT Analytical Platform. Bart started his career in IT after graduating in Business Administration and has 20+ years of experience in the field. Bart is the driving force behind many innovative projects and is currently involved in a number of strategic projects in Europe, Middle East and Australia that relate to IoT, predictive maintenance and customer experience management.