Businesses are becoming customer-obsessed, developing new business models and innovating new business processes with the goal of unlocking new revenue opportunities and transforming into leaner, digital versions of themselves (often using intellectual property already owned). To do this, they must change the lens through which they view their industries, partners, competitors -- their world views. The price for inaction is to be marginalized or worse yet, made wholly irrelevant by new entrants with Internet of Things (IoT) and data-driven insights in hand.
Here are FIVE WAYS to become IoT-ready and relevant.
1. Go big or go home. According to Harvard Business Review, and their “sensemaking” process, to divine your customer’s true experience, is to “approach the research without hypothesis, gathering large quantities of information in an open-ended way, with no preconceptions about what they will find.” The point here is you are not solving a known problem, so your usual sources of data and traditional market analysis tools will not yield the insights you are seeking. You will need to experiment with machine learning, artificial intelligence and analytics directly applied against your own large datasets, and compare and contrast against outside data sources as well.
2. Be in it for the long haul. The Internet of Things Business Index 2017, from The Economist, states that IoT from 2013 to 2016 has not advanced too far beyond research and planning, and that the most progress has been in improvements to external products and services. The survey further suggests limited progress using IoT to monitor and measure internal operations. This may imply that the top priority has been placed on improving the customer experience, prioritizing increases in top line revenue over cost savings and efficiencies. Case in point, major, multi-year initiatives like the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) have entered into an innovative train-as-service partnership with Hitachi Rail Europe. Hitachi retains ownership of its trains and their maintenance and Network Rail pays for on-time service. According to IoT UK, “Hitachi has integrated a network of sensors into its trains that will collect a massive amount of data on both the trains themselves and their journeys, such as location, speed and power consumption.” Hitachi uses analytics to monitor trains for potential issues before they become problems and also to do preventative maintenance to ensure trains are in top condition, and that they are where they need to be, when they are needed. The train system has just completed its first Edinburgh test journey, reducing travel time by 22 minutes. This new IoT-enabled business model benefits ridership with more reliable, safer and faster transport and it benefits train operators – for example -- they no longer need duplicate trains in case of breakdown -- indicating a stick with it mentality leads to long-term payoffs all around.
3. Recognize IoT isn’t all business. It’s also about improving society, including public safety. Examples like Hurricane Harvey emergency response are bellwethers of IoT progress. IoT can help us stay out of harm’s way, and if we are already in need of rescue, IoT technology can help get emergency aid to us faster. According to Forbes, “Even before Harvey made landfall, organizations such as NASA, NOAA, and municipalities were using sensor data, surveillance and satellite imagery to predict not just where the storm was likely to impact, but also coordinate with first responders and law enforcement.” Think about how your IoT innovations might make the world a safer and better place.
4. Look for low hanging fruit. In one online IoT class, an MIT CSAIL professor advises students to start small and be patient. Students are further advised to choose something with a clear value proposition (as in something that saves time and/or money) and one that addresses a fail safe application. We are reminded to do controls, observe and measure – and once again – be patient and search for insights. @MIT_CSAIL
5. Don’t try to do it all yourself. According to the business dictionary, “Co-creation allows and encourages a more active involvement from the customer to create a value rich experience.” I would add that it helps foster ideas from one end of the value chain to the other, not to mention, the likelihood for positive outcomes increases when all parties have some skin in the game. Likewise, in readying your IT for IoT, It probably doesn’t make sense for you to construct bespoke infrastructure to support each IoT deployment, because it can be complex. From manufacturing floors to solar farms to water treatment plants, sensors and analysis of collected data is helping organizations optimize their physical assets. The expected result is greater performance and output, efficiency, efficacy and extended life of capital equipment. Sometimes assets are located where it’s not simple to deploy IoT on public cloud. New to the market, Hitachi IoT Appliance simplifies IoT deployments in any number of industrial settings and can be placed at a location of your choosing from edge to core where data privacy, compliance, network limitations and other challenges can be more easily addressed. Hitachi IoT Appliance allows you to keep your focus where you can drive the most value for your business and your customers, not on IT set-up. Hitachi IoT Appliance is a consumption model for Lumada IoT Platform software. The Appliance is pre-loaded with Lumada IoT Platform software, pre-configured and pre-tested at the factory. The Appliance is built upon a hyperconverged, microservices-based architecture, with support for machine learning and analytics, meaning that Lumada software applications are delivered as microservices with compute and physical storage merged in a single system.
McKinsey said more than two years ago, “hype may actually understate the full potential of the Internet of Things” As more is learned; it seems the biggest and most economically impactful breakthroughs may come from the industrial sectors. Predictive maintenance, smart manufacturing, smart energy, and many types of operational optimization using augmented reality and artificial intelligence are being used in new, creative and lucrative ways.
The Hitachi NEXT 2017 conference is showcasing the latest in IoT technology and business solutions this week in Las Vegas where you’ll find Hitachi IoT Appliance, powered by Lumada, on display and in demos and sessions; I hope you can join us. If you can’t join us in person, check out live streaming or catch recorded sessions when you get a chance. Meanwhile, may your IoT data be plentiful and fruitful and may the IoT gods smile upon you.