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Harnessing the Business Possibilities of the Internet of Things
Sam Ganga
AUG 24, 2015 18:09 PM
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Harnessing the Business Possibilities of the Internet of Things
by Sam Ganga
          
The Internet of Things (IoT) has captured many headlines over the past year, and that’s because it has captured the imagination of everyone from startup entrepreneurs to heads of well-established enterprises. What started as an Internet-controlled toaster at the 2009 Interop Conference has now blossomed into a multi-billion-dollar world of possibility.
 
The IoT is an environment in which objects, animals, and people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. The implications of this network will extend to every person, home, business, and public infrastructure in the developed world—and, increasingly, the developing world—over the next decade.
 
IoT Changes Across the Board
 
The linchpin that enables us to realize concepts that could previously only be found in science fiction novels is new chipset, sensor, and communication technology that is small, cheap, modular, and energy-efficient. This is technology that allows you to control the temperature in your apartment from your phone while on vacation in France, or count how many people walk into your store locations in Tokyo, Rome, and Berlin from your mobile device in San Francisco.
 
Guest article by Sam Ganga, President, Global Mobility Services, and Mobile Innovations Officer at DMI
 
Connected thermostats, lights, and appliances are making our homes smarter. Smart cars and connected buses are transforming personal and public transportation, and public buildings and infrastructure are becoming connected. The workplace is changing everywhere, with processes and tools being mobilized and near-ubiquitous connectivity. Sports and hobbies are changing through the use of wearables and smart devices. Soon, by leveraging the information gained from sensors, healthcare products will no longer be used to manage symptoms — they’ll become an integral part of patient health through predictive data.
 
And the IoT is Bringing Significant Change to These Verticals
 
Retail
 
Sensors called beacons can be placed throughout a brick-and-mortar retail store; they send information on the customers’ location in-store, which can then be used to push tailored notifications for a personalized experience. Although there was much interest in beacons in 2014, they represent only one piece of the connected retail experience. The real connected experience will transform consumer habits regardless of their location. With wireless sensors and wearables, the retail experience and industry itself will undergo changes that alter the current retail experience forever.
 
Industrial Manufacturing
 
The IoT is the next leap forward in the world of manufacturing. Connected plants have already started yielding impressive results through the use of IoT devices and capabilities. In fact, manufacturing plants enabled with IoT technology—connected machinery and sensors—are able to go to market faster; reduce expenditure, ownership costs and risk management; and improve workforce efficiency, asset use, and optimization. By allowing plant managers to monitor these facilities and have a 24/7 global view of efficiency, industrial operations can be improved in real-time by eliminating information gaps.
 
City Infrastructure
 
The technology of the IoT will help cities streamline services, save money, and create new experiences for citizens – all by connecting their existing data and services. Data such as sensor use for traffic monitoring, video surveillance, physical access, and other systems are already in place in many urban centers. The next step will be connecting all this data for analysis to make it incredibly valuable and leveraging it for further use.
 
As cities build IoT-based infrastructure, they will become more responsive to their environment, such as predicting what future requirements will be. An example of this in current use is the infrastructure for water storage within various cities in the United States, through high-performance green infrastructure developed by Geosyntec. By integrating a building’s rainwater catchment system with software that leverages weather predictions from the Internet, they are able to know when to review water levels in the event of a predicted storm or drought.
 
Healthcare
 
Patient care, whether in-person or remote, will experience breakthroughs via IoT devices and sensors in healthcare. Hospitalized patients who need their physiological stats constantly monitored by physicians will now be able to be supervised by non-invasive sensors. The data will be continuously fed to the cloud, where further analysis can take place before being shared with physicians for further review. This method not only improves patient care, but also reduces overall costs. It will also transform remote monitoring of patients with chronic ailments.
 
Capitalizing on the IoT
 
Smarter, more self-directed systems that are adaptable to changing conditions – this is what the IoT enables us to create. While it is human nature to resist change by stepping out of an established comfort zone, managers need to ensure that the entire organization understands the benefits and feels part of the change through education and training.
 
The connected world and mobility provide your organization with freedom, while data gives you confidence and insights give you power. The biggest mistake you can make is to wait in the wings while a competitor figures out how to use the IoT to transform their business.
 
It may seem difficult to know where to start, but you are not without resources. Your business already possesses a rich vein of data that you can mine for information on what processes need improvement and what products or services your customers have been asking for or would be served by.
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