The world as we knew it has changed. With Covid-19, we are learning how to manage a health crisis like no other and its impact on our activities and lives. Now more than ever, we need to make use of the tools, including technology, at our disposal to implement innovative solutions that will create financial value for companies, but that is not all.
Among these tools, the Internet of Things (IoT) and related data have an important role to play in helping us control the economic, environmental and societal impact of this crisis.
IoT can be seen as an ambiguous term, which puts the emphasis on the notion of a thing/object, when the actual focus should be on the collection of industrial or physical data. An object which only creates data, is a necessary “evil”, as all companies need new data to carry out any transformation.
1. Understand the meaning of the data and the cost of obtaining it
Too often ignored, much of the data that can be collected through the IoT now must take their rightful place. Regardless of the markets or vertical sectors concerned, it has become essential for companies to identify the relevant data to be collected and take time to analyse the value that it can bring. This analysis is necessary to overcome any investment barriers on large scale structuring projects. While this exercise seems painstaking and time-consuming, it is a mandatory step in analysing the relevance of a project with regards to the data extraction cost that will be offered by suppliers.
Once the value of the data has been determined, the cost of extracting it must be considered. This requires methodology but is not a major difficulty.. It is therefore essential for companies to rely on suppliers who can guarantee the cost of data collection over the entire project’s lifetime. This is a guarantee of financial return for manufacturers.
It would be meaningless to invest in a project before having obtained this level of analysis and visibility on the prerequisites for its execution. Company leaders will be able to launch a project without fear and count on the guarantee of a return on investment only when they have received a return from the experts who will attest the value of the data.
2. The value of the data is not only financial
Acquiring, analysing and managing data can have many benefits that go far beyond the merely financial.
Data is also a unique tool to enable companies, as well as local communities, to respond to environmental issues. There are many examples, but the most relevant are probably those concerning smart cities and transportation and logistics. By using the IoT on a daily basis, they are sustainably minimising the impact of human activities on the environment.
For cities, the data collected provide communities with valuable information to establish sustainable development initiatives, develop action plans and budgets, and improve infrastructure management. In the transport and logistics sector, the use of IoT data enables the improvement of transport processes, signage and routes, which is already leading to a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions.
The environmental dimension can be taken into account in the assessment of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). For each type of data obtained, it is possible to evaluate this aspect separately.
Finally, data also play a role in society. It is particularly useful in the health sector where, for example, data collection can help to better understand and contain an epidemic such as the one we have been experiencing for nearly a year. It is also an essential tool for the protection of vulnerable people and can help anticipate the deterioration of their health and improve the response of health care workers.
Harnessing the value of data is no small task and requires dedication, but it’s worth the effort. With the growing number of connected devices around the world and within organisations, this aspect of technology can no longer be ignored. Whether it’s to better understand and manage crises that would otherwise completely overwhelm us, to save time and money, or to address environmental and societal issues, understanding and managing data is essential to enable us to innovate and be ready for tomorrow’s world.