Increasingly, companies across all business sectors are realizing they need to adopt an Internet of Things mentality, or Internet of Everything as some put it, in order to keep their business expanding in the right direction. In many cases, IoT is only understood as a newly coined buzzword without a full comprehension of how it will impact the business from inside and outside. We look at a few of the most important ramifications for your business to become IoT-ready.
The Prerequisites for IoT Participation
If your business has even a hint of being behind in terms of technology, one of the first orders of business should be a full evaluation of your current machinery, network and computational capabilities. The main question you have to ask is how well-connected your current infrastructure is to the Internet, and does your business’ infrastructure have the capability to communicate with itself and internal business processes.
Upgrading your technology capability for IoT might be done piecemeal, but it is more likely to require a full overhaul over the next few years. The basic rule of thumb here is to make sure that any new equipment and its software is designed to connect to the Internet.
Get on the Cloud Now
As part of your technology capability evaluation, think about how your activities, processes and machinery can be moved to the cloud. Not only can use of cloud infrastructure and cloud-based services reduce capital costs, it is an ideal way to make sure your company keeps up with IoT developments and other technology improvements. It also enables the business to scale up and down seasonally or permanently as the business grows or new markets are entered.
Invest in Your Employees
Even if you personally are not fully conversant in IoT and its value relative to your business, it is time to start educating your employees. You may find they already know a lot more about the topic than you do. They probably will provide a wealth of ideas about improving the business’ IoT readiness. This is especially true of Millennial employees as they are more than likely to already “get it” with regards to IoT.
Brainstorm Taking Advantage of IoT
Once you and your employees understand the business is adopting an IoT-centric viewpoint, it is time to imagine ways to leverage it to increase sales and profits:
- Look for ways to reduce operating costs with IoT. This can be done by using IoT products to reduce electricity or fuel consumption, improve asset management, perform more efficient machinery maintenance, increase operating uptime or make employee life-work balance more effective.
- Seek out ways to use IoT to improve your customers’ experience. This is especially applicable to retail outlets, which can utilize closed wireless networks in stores plus downloadable apps that provide customers a higher level of connection to products and offers. Done correctly, this connectivity acquires data pertaining to customer preferences and buying habits.
- Invent new, connected customer-centric services by leveraging the plethora of sophisticated, but easy-to-use, IoT development platforms available these days. These are new products or promotional collateral that will keep customers connected to your business throughout their daily activities.
- Ask how to make your existing products more IoT-friendly. IoT-capable appliances, tools, electronic devices and other products are increasingly including IP-addressable components that allow them to be monitored or controlled remotely by customers or maintenance services. The majority of customers now expect to find such capabilities in all manner of products. If your products lack them, they may be at a competitive disadvantage.
Readiness to Handle Big Data Flows
Larger businesses, especially those with a broad portfolio of IoT-enabled products, need to prepare for an onslaught of data flowing from an expanding deployment of IoT products that growing at a 30+ percent rate per year.
Regardless of whether your enterprise is moving to a cloud infrastructure or not, these data flows require upfront planning, ongoing monitoring and resource allocation. Especially if your business is planning to take advantage of real-time data analytics from thousands or millions of IoT components, you probably need to invest in higher performance hardware, software and expert training.
The Internet of Things is no longer a future concept. It is happening right now and accelerating at a phenomenal pace. Every business, whether in the technology sector or not, needs to educate themselves regarding the prerequisites to participate in IoT, and what it means to their business operations, to their customers and their product portfolios.
IoT might require a complete re-thinking of your organization’s structure or it could be approached in smaller steps, but the time to start thinking about how IoT impacts the business is today.