Three years ago, Bluestar - an air conditioning and commercial refrigeration company was facing a massive challenge to provide timely customer-service across more than 1,200 customer sites where their products were installed. The company then leveraged IoT to connect all installed units to a central location to identify and predict an issue, enabling them to start remote diagnosis, thus saving cost and time. Within two years, the company succeeded in enabling IoT at 600 customers’ sites and has now incorporated IoT across multiple areas in the company.
A major business disruptor providing a wealth of opportunities, IoT's potential is limitless. However, today's IoT market is overcrowded and fragmented, with different technologies being offered by different players, vying for both market share and mindshare, and hindering the market from scaling. The result? A significant number of IoT projects are taking a long time to reach the scale and create the impact they were intended.
A well-planned and well-executed proof-of-concept (PoC) is essential to identify design, financial, and infrastructure challenges. It ensures that enterprises are empowered to begin an end-to-end IoT implementation journey. To kick-start this journey, enterprises need to consider the 6 S’s in advance: solution, surplus, skill, speed, security, and scale.
While IoT continues to be a hot topic globally, business imperatives should steer the technology. Not the other way around. First, identify the business need. This could be discovering operational inefficiencies, understanding the pulse of your customer when using your products, or creating new revenue streams altogether. Once you have determined the need, map it to the right IoT product for it.
The ROI from IoT is primarily perceived to be in the form of cost savings and an increase in efficiency. However, with the right technology, there is potential also to introduce new streams of revenue for the business. For instance, Sheela Foam (the makers of Sleepwell mattress) use IoT to build personalized, on-demand mattresses. The company opened IoT-enabled experience zones in showrooms across India wherein sensors, and 3D imaging effectively analyzes a customer's pressure points and weight distribution. They then designed personalized mattresses. Through this, the company succeeded in transforming India's mattress manufacturing industry.
Hence, instead of looking at IoT as a subset of a company's digital transformation project, it's crucial to outline the long-term, bigger goals an enterprise seeks to achieve. Then, start with the quick wins, instead of waiting for full-scale disruption.
Enterprises must shift their focus from just prioritizing technology capabilities to also assessing the IoT providers' skills. Especially, their ability to bring all the pieces of the ecosystem together and delivering a complete integrated solution.
The outcome of a PoC is a good way to determine if the IoT idea can be turned into a reality. It is not to establish the best process or understand the market potential. This comes at a later stage. Think of your turn around time (TAT) and work towards setting a minimum TAT for your project. The other approach is to learn from the experience of others and leverage the learnings from other use cases.
In several organizations today, cybersecurity has become a boardroom issue. While security awareness in enterprises is growing, adoption remains a crucial challenge in the experimental phase. This only intensifies with scale as security gets left out, resulting in a no-ownership issue.
Recent research shows that enterprise customers are willing to buy more IoT devices as well as pay more (nearly 22% more on average) if security is addressed adequately. Hence, incorporating security right from the onset should be a no-brainer
Interestingly, research from the Ovum study has shown that the majority of enterprises who have deployed IoT have seen measurable benefits within 12 months of deployment. The best way is to start small and then scale up gradually.
We have seen few enterprises start with a pilot, but have a plan to scale fast once they know the solution is performing. However, as more enterprises adopt IoT, it is expected the newer adopters to go for scale right from the start.
This is also reflected in how some of the solution providers are scaling. Once the solution has been implemented successfully, the uptake is fast. For instance, Bengaluru's WeGoT, an IoT-based utility solutions company, took three years to establish its prototype VenAqua, a solution that empowers customers with data and recommendations on minimizing water consumption in homes. The project was first rolled out in only 500 homes, and a year later, it expanded to two cities and more than 2,000 homes. Today, the solution is present in more than 20,000 homes and has saved 550 million liters of water.
The benefits of IoT cut across process efficiencies, new business opportunities, enhanced customer service, and engagement while also bringing in productivity and cost savings. Following the 6 S guide can help move your IoT projects from PoC to deployment at scale.
Alok Bardiya, head of Internet of Things (Business Unit), Tata Communications wrote this article.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends.