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Much of the hype around the Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M (machine-to-machine) solutions is centered on the consumer, but this is expected to change or at least I hope it will soon. We are inundated with articles, press, and other media around smart homes, connected vehicles, mHealth, and consumer wearables. This is all great for the industry as a whole and for major players in the Connected Ecosystem, yet the real excitement and opportunity for the market should be concentrated around yes, you got it, ‘THE ENTERPRISE’. The business or enterprise M2M market in the U.S. is expected to reach 20M+ connections according to Compass Intelligence, with a large part going to asset and fleet tracking, followed by vending/POS (point of sale) terminal connections in Retail.
“Information relating to key operational problems, troubleshooting, and just-in-time delivery of goods and services are made available in real-time interfaces”
Below are 5 key areas, where the enterprise will benefit from IoT and wearable technology. This is where the hype should be, but is lacking today!
1. Operations will become “Smart” by Being Connected
2. Assets, Gain Value and Become More Protected
3. Wearables provide useful and real-time enterprise information
4. Industry Applications Become Heavily Integrated into Corporate Systems
5. Employees become greatly enabled and accountable
Operations will become “Smart” by Being Connected
Operations from small startups to global multi-national companies (MNCs) have the opportunity to leverage embedded connectivity and real-time “intelligent data” into a number of areas of their business. Industries such as manufacturing, transportation, distribution, and government are just a few examples of where IoT will have the most impact. The intelligence that will be delivered to all levels of employees will and is providing real-time information to better protect, act, and respond to customer or client needs. This takes place in product development, logistics, customer service, and other pertinent areas of the enterprise. An example would be a Candy Factory connecting the entire factory floor and improving just-in-time manufacturing to provide deliveries to distributors and better meet customer demand. Operations automation, demand response, asset protection, and real-time inventory become astute activities as a result of IoT. The biggest names are launching platforms to enable IoT, including recently Intel and ARM. This platform-based play is crossing into enterprise application development, integration, device management, operations management, and IT management.
Assets Gain Value and Become More Protected
Those that are already tracking their corporate assets can testify to the long list of cost-saving benefits. Asset tracking and monitoring, whether general goods or equipment or high-value assets, enable businesses to protect their most valued investments, reduce shrinkage or loss, and secure precious assets that directly affect their bottom line. Tracking and monitoring has been a strong area of focus for delivery and distribution companies, yet this key horizontal IoT application becomes more important for many industries including Education. Universities, for example, will leverage this IoT application to track their transportation systems, improve their energy usage and management, and provide real-time information to logistics and ordering for their food services departments and locations.
Wearables provide usefulreal-time enterprise information
Today wearables are “nice to have” and fall into a niche area of the consumer market. The most exciting opportunities for wearables are how businesses can leverage these devices for business activities. There are a number of jobs that require a hands-free environment and would greatly benefit from having intelligence at the glance of a watch or even visible through wearable glasses. Take for example oil workers, construction workers, law enforcement, and the military (already heavy users of wearable technology). In addition, wearables that can be worn or even attached to a hard hat or shoe may provide benefits we are not even aware of today. This is where voice automation, authentication, and speech technology become more integral into the workforce. Developers are beginning to look to the enterprise to develop core applications for the workforce, but until we get there, wearables will just fall into the niche area of the market for consumers as a “cool gadget.”
Industry Applications Become Heavily Integrated into Corporate Systems
Today, industries across the board rely on enterprise systems and applications to conduct day-to-day business including customer service, e-commerce, logistics, order fulfillment, production, inventory management, and more. These systems can many times be disparate and not share information across or between each other, essentially they are not integrated. With the advancement in IoT, it will be imperative to share this “Big Data” directly with these systems or application areas and to share this intelligence between these enterprise applications.
Companies like SAP and IBM become major players as they currently have the strong relationship with the enterprise customer, in addition to companies like Salesforce.com and Microsoft. Take for example the retail industry, which heavily relies on inventory management, POS systems, and CRM systems for daily work activities. These systems become “smart” and as transactions are complete, this real-time information is shared with other systems and key personnel to provide a more personable shopping experience for consumers.
Employees become greatly enabled and accountable
The most exciting area is how IoT will change the workforce landscape as we know it today. We have a long way to go, but this is what the industry is working towards. Intelligence gathered from a number of IoT/M2M applications will filter to respective executives, managers, and varying levels of the workforce. Client-facing platforms and device management interfaces will enable IT managers and other line of business managers to manage how information gets shared with specific workers and how to respond to that information whether it be through an automated response or manual intervention. These platforms will be integrated and communicate with existing communications and data centers, as well as feed data directly to the tablet, smartphone or wearable device of key employees.
This may eliminate certain job positions in the future, but also free up resources to contribute to other profit-centered activities of companies. Information relating to key operational problems, alerts, troubleshooting, and just-in-time delivery of goods and services are made available in real-time interfaces. This better enables management and staff to provide improved services, better quality products, and has a key goal to reduce problems and errors that cost companies millions or billions of dollars. Accountability of work activities is leveraged through real-time intelligence information feeding to workers, allowing for better response and information to act quickly and even automate the most common activities through existing systems and enterprise software/ applications.