When the internet of things (IoT) comes up in general conversation, most people are referring to the idea of a smart device, such as a washing machine that you can order your fabric softener from when supplies are low, or a fridge that prompts you to buy milk. Those into wearable technology might even be referring to their smart watch or another item of clothing, however IoT is so much more than that!
IoT offers businesses and individuals a great deal of opportunity and has been described by some as like a “nervous system” which not only sends and receives information between devices, places and people but tracks and analyses it too.
It has been widely estimated, and subsequently reported, that there will be approximately 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. With this in mind, Postscapes Lab have estimated that the resulting economic impact could range from anything from US$2 trillion to over $14 trillion in just the next five years. This is big news for the business world!
With IoT expected to become the largest device market in the world and add $1.7 trillion in the year 2019 to the global economy, businesses should be thinking more strategically about how to use IoT. Instead of just focusing on the fact that IoT means that all our devices can talk to one another (and humans), businesses need to delve into how IoT might help their business processes function more effectively and help reduce costs to the business, as well as home and even city life!
Some businesses are already on top of this, with 1 in 6 companies already releasing (or at least planning to roll out) IoT merchandise and around 75% of these companies investigating how they might use the technology to advance their internal processes, products and services. (Source: Frank Burkitt in Strategy+Business magazine)
IoT technology will allow companies to explore their customer behaviour deeper than they ever have before, simply by their customers using devices that are connected or even just walking through a connected area. The resulting knowledge and understanding gleaned will then positively impact on the products and services being delivered to their customers and enable companies to be increasingly innovative.
Where does your company currently stand in terms of IoT technology? Are you prepared for what’s coming? How can you ensure your company is better prepared?
First things first, you must explore the ever increasing landscape of IoT players. These can be categorised into three different groups, each of which reflects its own kind of enterprise. You should be aware of them all and cost them into your IoT strategy:
This group of players tend to be technology-orientated. As such they are generally the companies leading the way in the development and implementation of all the underlying technology behind IoT; technology, which in turn allows the next group, Engagers, to develop connected services for themselves. Enabler examples: Google, HP, IBM, and Cisco.
This group of players uses the infrastructure developed by the Enablers in order to design, manufacture and produce IoT services for the end user, the customer. They are the middle man between IoT development and the marketplace.
This group of players tends to focus on the value-added services. In this way they tend to offer an advanced version of what is being provided by the Engagers. They do this by providing integrated services, essentially repacking the Engagers’ products and services. The Enhancers tend to focus on the core value which stems from IoT activities, i.e. data insight.
Business should be thinking about how they might fit into one, two or even all three of these particular groups.
How can you use IoT to add value to your company and to your customers? How can you use the technology to keep learning and growing your business model?
Be assured that as IoT continues to grow, your competitors will be asking themselves these questions. You can’t afford to sit back and be idle. Now is the time to get on board with IoT and look beyond the initial benefits! Be strategic and you’ll see…IoT won’t let you down.