Why should executives care about Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications in their companies? That is the question addressed by a study examining the business use cases for IoT applications by seven large companies, plus a city government. As shown in the table, they a potpourri of sizes and industries. In the detailed study, a vignette for each describes their business problem, solution involving IoT, and resulting benefits, along with an introduction to IoT technology.
What are the lessons that executives can learned from this study? IoT is more than a fancy technology that improves a few business processes. These companies created a variety of IoT use cases for reducing costs, increasing efficiency, improving customer service, and exploiting innovative business opportunities. These use cases impacted cross-organizational issues and exploited strategic opportunities, both requiring executive attention and action. The lessons learned are:
- IoT value to your company depends on analytics
- IoT value can be expanded incrementally from initial use cases
- IoT value should flow from operational to strategic use cases
- IoT value can be limited by technology assimilation within your company
- IoT value requires investment in an essential infrastructure
Value Dependence on Analytics
Business value from IoT technology depends on the Analytics-of-Things (AoT), which is the integration, management and analytics of the IoT sensor data required to distill business insights. In the past, IoT generated a data stream of measurements that drove descriptive dashboards for operational control. Today, IoT business value comes from a holistic view of the business environment across time, locations and functions, along with business insights from predictive analytics.
The good news is many organizations have a data warehouse and analytic skills, implying that AoT is just focusing existing skills and tools at new sensor datasets. Further, recent advances have enabled the capture and curation of most sensor data into a low-cost data lake and to link this data into an integrated data warehouse, enabling innovative cross-organizational applications. Data analytics can now be applied to this integrated sensor data to extend beyond operational efficiency into strategic planning.
Value Expansion from Use Cases
IoT can be like breeding rabbits – fun, easy and profitable! Once the infrastructure is established, the initial use case stimulates ideas and questions about product improvements and business opportunities. That leads to further analyses, more instrumentation, deeper questions, and new use cases. Executives can leverage a simple single-purpose IoT use case into a value-expansion enabler for:
- Refining the effectiveness of the initial use case (more accuracy, finer resolution)
- Expanding the use case to other operational issues (more applicability)
- Collaboration among functional units (more linkages around related processes)
- Introducing new data-centric services (new revenue opportunities)
Value Evolution from Operational to Strategic
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