Management and entrepreneurs in every field will learn to interpret depth metrics relating to the behaviour of every client, as well as every worker and the progress of their business, and will also get access to detailed information on the operation of their businesses.
A growing number of actors and leading experts in the IT scene have pointed to 2017 as a turning point for sparking off a wave of new initiatives in the Internet of Things (IoT) in companies and businesses of every kind, in an ecosystem that is set to reach maturity in 2021. Four years may seem a long time, but this should not be used by companies as an excuse for delaying their implementation; the earlier they start, the better equipped they will be to undertake a proactive immersion in the IoT.
A recent report drawn up by the annual event, the IoT Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC), organised by Fira de Barcelona, which every year brings together the world’s leading companies and representatives of the Internet of Things for industrial application, emphasises the six drivers that will speed up the implementation of IoT in businesses and companies of every kind. For those business people who are still displaying signs of scepticism, there are some very good reasons why they should consider integrating the IoT in their business processes.
1 Automation of processes
The automation of certain tasks such as stocktaking, money counting or the maintenance of staff job schedules is one of the great breakthroughs of the IoT. Entrepreneurs and managers need to distinguish between the time they spend on tasks that are really important for the progress of the business and those that, albeit necessary for the company to operate, are not directly aligned with its strategic objectives. In the latter case, finding mechanisms that automate certain repetitive tasks ends up saving time and workforce labour. However, automation also entails certain risks that need to be bolstered by cybersecurity measures.
2 Depth metrics
Management and entrepreneurs in every field will learn to interpret depth metrics relating to the behaviour of every client, as well as every worker and the progress of their business, and will also get access to detailed information on the operation of their businesses. All this valuable information needs to be processed properly using analytic systems and visualisation software. Conventional communication channels such as voice, email and even videoconferencing will be complemented by IoT devices that will take physical presence to a whole new level of interaction.
3 More flexible workforces
As well as smart factories, we will also be talking about ‘smart offices’ and ‘smart warehouses’. The emergence of the IoT in companies means that everything is speeding up. From the moment that the interconnection of devices can include any kind of element, from traffic lights to vehicles and public transport, employers and employees alike will be spending less time on commuting.
Thanks to cloud-hosted software and the tremendous versatility of certain devices such as tablets, teleworking will become a serious option for professionals from numerous sectors, from healthcare staff through to salespeople and journalists, not forgetting office workers in all kinds of public and private companies.
4 Increased productivity, reducing the IT budget
In general terms, the IoT will facilitate an increase in productivity and a reduction in IT budgets in all kinds of businesses and companies. It is likely that the costs involved in implementing sensors and updating devices and networks to host the analytics platforms will be high; but businesses will benefit almost immediately from savings in staff costs thanks to the fact that the technology will effectively resolve problems to which they previously had to devote time and manual effort. As and when the IoT becomes a generalised standard, industries such as logistics and freight transport will almost certainly automate almost all their processes.
5 Preventive maintenance with M2M communication
When the IoT becomes a fact of daily life and all devices become manageable elements of a single network, it will be even easier to manage everything remotely. With a tablet and an internet connection it will be possible to manage an entire production line, a warehouse or a library with millions of references. Many industrial machine systems for manufacturing goods that show the operational state of the production chain through local displays are getting feedback from a wide variety of supplementary sensors. These sensors connect to the factory networks to provide real-time information that will be analysed and used for preventive maintenance programmes to adjust production parameters and coordinate multiple pieces of equipment. M2M communications, which lay the foundations of the IoT, are helping to reduce the costs of the entire production chain.
6 More streamlined data analytics
Some people are calling for a deeper understanding of the importance of operating in IoT deployments equipped with tools that streamline analytics – especially those that take place at the data site (edge analytics) – in order to innovate. “The IoT opens the door to new ways of winning customers, to evolving the way we operate in the market, and to innovative business management models in business processes and the production of goods. Why are a growing number of companies deciding to adopt the IoT, given the complexity involved in managing this type of platform?” asks the North American analyst Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). The answer is clear, as the ESG points out below: “Because in spite of the complexity involved in the IoT, the benefits of analytics are immediate in the form of operating efficiencies, differentiated and improved customer service, the creation of new products and services, and the development of new and disruptive business models.”
The views of IoTSWC experts on the disruptive effect of IoT in business
The main players and experts in the development of Internet of Things systems for industrial use who met at IoTSWC 2016 pointed to various disruptive elements of the IoT that will encompass every sector of the economy.
“Every industrial sector will come under the influence of the IoT. Estimates of what the IoT ecosystem will represent in economic terms have been put at 20 trillion dollars over the next five to six years.” – Mark Cawford (SAP)
“The changes that have taken place in the last two or three years in terms of efficiency, availability and optimisation of companies’ operability have definitely left behind the methodologies of the past.” – Douglas Bellin (Cisco)
“Following the arrival of Industry 4.0, a new wave of technologies is now available for the goods production industry. The second big disruption of the IoT will be introduced by the automotive industry in terms of authentication and identification.” – Patrick Razavet (Vodafone)
“If we think about connected vehicles, we can see that we are bringing IoT disruption directly to other sectors such as insurance and also to governments, so we need to establish the physical and technological links to embrace a much bigger change that will reach more industrial sectors.” – Nicola Villa (IBM)
“There has not been a big explosion in the use of IoT but industries are moving rapidly towards the ecosystem in a process that not only involves industrial companies but also energy companies, the workforce… everything is inside it. If companies do not make the shift to be IoT companies, they will be the ones defeated by the disruption.” – John Roese (Dell Technologies)
“The disruption of the IoT will reach every industry. Consequently, it’s better to be prepared for the onset of disruption before other better-prepared companies take advantage of it before you.” – Richard Soley (IIC)