My latest whitepaper, ‘Unlocking the true value of the Internet of Things (IoT)’ is now available to download. This best practice guide identifies the key opportunities and challenges presented for businesses by the rise of IoT.
The white paper examines how, if approached correctly, IoT can offer a chance to reinvent business processes and transform market offerings. However, recent Forrester research shows that only 34% of organisations agree that IoT enables new types of business models, with many focussing instead on how it can drive operational efficiency.
A combination of agile digital disruptors engaging customers in new ways, and empowered consumers demanding a change to market fundamentals, means that organisations are at a clear junction. They can either embrace the opportunities IoT offers, or risk failure.
The paper outlines the key considerations for IoT success, which are summarised as follows:
IoT implementation will bring up new challenges, not least in connecting business systems across business boundaries. This needs strong companywide collaboration, championed by leadership. No one person or department can plan and implement an IoT strategy alone – nor should they, as for IoT to live up to its potential, organisations need to join the dots between existing silos of information.
Whoever ‘owns’ IoT within an organisation also needs to help drive a cultural shift to encourage departments – from marketing and ecommerce to IT and HR – to innovate and work collaboratively towards realising a holistic customer view.
Innovate, innovate, innovate
The average lifespan of a company is now just 15 years according to the S&P index. The main reason for this? Failure to embrace innovation. Kodak is a classic example here. Although it is the company responsible for inventing the digital camera, ironically its failure to embrace it led to the company’s downfall.
When it comes to IoT, the majority of organisations are not yet looking beyond getting products to turn on and off remotely, partly because it is the most obvious and partly because larger, well-established organisations need to prove the business case first and so start slowly.
However, agile start-ups can, and are, moving very quickly to seeing how products can work within a much larger connected eco-system and consumer demand for this is increasing. It is hugely important for organisations to look further ahead and carve out time to be innovative and really think through exactly what they want to achieve with IoT, where they want to go with it and how they’re going to get there.
Embrace changes in product and service design
Part of the reason that taking time to innovate is so important is that the advent of IoT is having an enormous impact on both product and service design – and it is these changes that will drive the commercial success of IoT. As the connected devices that make up IoT become more prevalent, the lines between software and hardware will continue to blur. In effect, products could improve over time rather than vice versa.
This turns current models on its head, with products being more of a way to deliver services than about the actual product itself. Everything will potentially be a service and therefore offer new revenue streams. The challenge will be to produce products that can adapt and learn from the user to continuously offer relevant and meaningful services.
Intelligent use of data to gain a single customer view
As business models shift to subscription based approaches, accessing and exploiting customer data will be absolutely key. To encourage customers to sign up to and continue using subscription based services, organisations will need to know them extremely well, in order to repeatedly anticipate their needs and maximise their experience. For this, organisations will need to understand how their customers consume their services, by tracking their behaviours across channels over time.
Customers already increasingly expect a personalised, seamless experience across all digital touch points and the increase of connected devices on IoT will only compound this expectation. Fortunately, IoT will also provide a goldmine of customer data – for those organisations that can successfully collect and analyse it at least.
Build on your current investment
The technology to enable connected devices and IoT for organisations is, generally, all in place. The majority of organisations have a digital ‘hub’ encompassing mobile, commerce, CMS, web, analytics, bespoke apps etc. This is good news for many organisations, as it means they do not necessarily need to re-invent their digital estate. Indeed, an organisation’s CMS system is often the only single source of truth amongst all digital assets and content within a business.
It is a vital component within a digital ecosystem that can handle scale and load and is the only platform that is capable of managing a business’ brand experience. In addition, it’s agile and is already gathering intelligence – why on earth would you start again? Instead, build on this investment.
It’s all about the cloud
The cloud is absolutely key in terms of enabling IoT, as it can facilitate not only the integration of the aforementioned technologies, but also the exchange of data that is so central to IoT. It is not only a very efficient hosting environment, it is also possibly the only affordable way to realise IoT.
When building on their current assets, organisations need to ensure they invest in cloud-based infrastructure in order to reap the rewards IoT can enable. Think of the cloud as the brains and control system for the new IoT ecosystem – without it, there is no glue to bind all the devices and platforms together.
Matt Clarke, Chief Technology Officer at Amaze, comments: “IoT is set to be more disruptive and far reaching than many realise. If approached correctly, it can transform entire business models and lead to unprecedented competitive advantage. It can revolutionise customer experience, streamline operations, completely alter product and service design and deliver new business models and revenue streams.
“All the building blocks are in place for organisations to capitalise on IoT – technology is not the issue; strategy and culture are. That is why it is vital that organisations claim ownership of the IoT agenda and drive the change needed to join the dots between their digital functions, not just look at IoT as a way to streamline processes or cost savings.
“Put bluntly, those that do not, will fail to reap the rewards offered by IoT. Businesses are at a clear junction – they can either make changes to improve their market share going forward, or stick to existing models and risk failure.
“However, organisations do need to appreciate that success in IoT will take time, and that they may not see rewards straight away. That doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually. The Internet of Things is a brave new world for all involved, but there is no doubt its age is dawning. IoT offers opportunities that haven’t even been imagined yet, but to be able to deliver on its promise, businesses need to be brave and take that step out into the unknown.”