Since the next gen technologies became mainstream about three to four years ago, the IoT industry has gone through a significant journey. Needless to say, IoT has been the focal point of many transformation-related conversation in the asset heavy industries.
In the beginning, most organizations were struggling with the question of how to interpret IoT in the context of their business. Since the possibilities were endless, so was the dilemma of where and how to begin. The industry ultimately chose to go with a case-based approach and the technology service providers played a key role in launching it. The primary objective was to experiment with IoT.
Organizations can now safely assume that the experimentation phase is over. The emerging question is how will the IoT industry leverage this progress in delivering real business outcomes at the enterprise level. The sudden emergence of the pandemic has also become a big factor in deciding of how industries will plan ahead in mid- to long-term. Before we talk about the next phase, let’s take a look at the IoT industry’s journey in the past few years and how it is now easing into the next phase.
The evolution of the IoT industry
The maturity of IoT’s journey can be divided into three stages: the pre-IoT stage, the proof of concept (POC) stage and the proof of value stage. The journey to scaled IoT implementations begins with the POC stage but gathers steam after the proof of value stage. Proof of value opens up a variety of opportunities for implementing IoT solutions across organizations and delivers sustainable value at scale to the customer. Let’s understand this more by taking examples of COVID-19-related business challenges being faced by some of the key industries today and how technology providers can deliver business outcomes driven by proof of value.
The current pandemic has put a significant challenge on the pharmaceutical community by disrupting their existing clinical trial models. Though the world awaits a breakthrough from this industry to fight the virus, it is significantly challenged in their ability to continue drug trials in the current scenario where social distancing is the new normal.
However, the tech solution providers can assist the industry with decentralized clinical trials, which means setting up an ecosystem of medical grade physiological devices and wearables as well as telemetry-enabled intelligent IoT operations platforms. This can help the pharmaceutical industry create an integrated patient platform that can be remotely setup and enabled within a matter of days. This solution holds the potential to address a looming concern with immediate relief.
Another industry that is facing the direct heat of the ongoing situation is manufacturing. COVID-19 has disrupted global manufacturing operations in an unprecedented manner. A significant number of manufacturing operations have been disrupted or stopped while they are trying to protect workers’ health.
Demand has stalled global supply chains have run dry. In addition to the health and safety issues, there is a global supply and demand crisis. A comprehensive approach is required to provide solutions that can help re-design and rebuild the supply chains that are aligned to the new normal.
Energy and utilities
The utilities sector is known for having physical assets spread over large terrestrial areas, such as towers and cables for a power company. One of the key aspects of operations is to continuously monitor the condition of these assets at all times, which is often manual in nature.
Today, when human mobility is severely restricted, a technology solution built with remote monitoring capabilities based on image analytics will solve the monitoring challenges for a lot of companies. Not only that, the tasks which require visiting consumers, such as meter reading, can also be tackled with smart meters for remote meter tracking
There are similar challenges across other industries such as retail, transportation, oil and gas, where technology providers need to scale up their capabilities and deliver outcomes for entire organizations. This is the real proof of value that businesses need today from the technical partners.
Proof of value building blocks
At this juncture, it is also important to talk about key common building blocks service providers must keep in mind while approaching the proof of value conversation:
- Clearly articulate business outcomes: Service providers typically work with a limited set of customer stakeholders who also have questions from their business to show real business outcomes. One of the great opportunities that a service provider can bring to the table is a clear articulation of the roadmap and end outcome. This plays a significant role in creating a relationship with stakeholders across the organization.
- Ability to deliver business outcomes: An end-to-end set of offerings that help define, build and run any IoT-led transformation initiative from conception to completion in a manner that delivers real business outcomes.
- Harness data: Considering a majority of organizations are not running clean usable, data lakes, organizations must build a way to harness data and use that data for favorable business outcomes.
- Addressing security threats: Due to higher number of connected components in the asset value chain, organizations must prepare an action plan to combat possible security threats. It is estimated that IoT endpoint will increase to a staggering 5.8 billion by 2020, according to Gartner. That is a remarkable growth of 21% year-over-year. One of the key obstacles that decision makers always cite is security concerns.
- Need of cultural shift: A cultural shift within organizations is required to address upskilling and knowledge sharing challenges across the business.
The aforementioned list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a robust one to start with for sure. Service providers cannot escape the shift in market dynamics and customer expectations, especially in the times ahead. If service providers wish to remain relevant, they must convince the customers that they are in sync with their vision of an IoT-led transformation.
In a nutshell, an IoT-led transformation means that organizations will be able to deliver real business outcomes at the enterprise level. The proof of value calibration essentially acts as a launchpad for organizations to grow at exponential rate. The current scenario and the near future holds a plethora of opportunities for tech giants to prove their mettle.