Tim Reed, SVP of Information Systems and Technologies at EMCOR Building Services, explains seven game-changing opportunities in today’s world of IoT.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects (‘Things’) that use sensors to capture data and embedded connectivity to exchange information over the internet to drive new value creation. ‘Things’ can be computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people.
The anticipated benefits of IoT are widely touted. But what is today’s reality? What are the real business benefits of IoT to take advantage of now?
- New business opportunities
IoT can provide you the ability to collect data from the network and use advanced analytics to uncover business insights and opportunities, and reduce operational cost. For example: Select a sampling of data about your top customers and the key processes that support those customers. Break down what you can gather to create an initial baseline. Look at how customers are requesting your services and your typical response. Are you only responding to requests, or by tapping IoT data, can you create new opportunities to grow revenue?
- New capabilities to predict and act
A key opportunity is the ability to predict needs before they arise and act with precision based on insights from the IoT network. Collected data can be used to build the historical trends that predict and put you in front of issues before they occur. For example, manufacturer warranty and maintenance information can be paired with IoT-collected data to predict maintenance incidents. You may have the opportunity to provide customers with a value-added service that saves them money while, at the same time, building their loyalty.
- Improve monitoring
With IoT, sensors and smart devices provide the capability to manage a network of physical objects. Consider monitoring across multiple layers of the network and infrastructure used by you and your customers. The data that you collect from an onsite monitor could be enhanced with data about hardware version, firmware version, and location. Go beyond the sensor data and look at how that data is captured and transferred, such as timestamps and error logs to improve network performance.
- Increase customer dialog
All of this new capability provides opportunities to increase the level of dialog and interaction with customers. Consider the utility bill that you receive each month. Most likely, it provides you with an estimate of what you might expect to pay over the next couple of months. Use that example and work with your marketing and business development partners to translate the IoT data you are capturing and into models that will increase customer dialog, trust and retention.
- Fine tune services and products
Leading edge firms are using IoT to fine tune their services and products. As an analogy, think about the light fixtures that have a sensor so that the lights turn on when you enter the room. But after some time the room goes dark, forcing you to wave your around arms to turn the light back on. It’s aggravating! Now apply this example to your customer: Do they need something from you but, because the flow of information is not tuned, it is causing an interruption? (lights off!) Look for gaps or interruptions of data relative to the process your customer is engaged in. What can you do to fine tune and close any gaps that your customers experience?
- New revenue streams
IoT capabilities allow you to set up and roll out new products and services, often quickly. Use data collected by IoT devices to help predict what your customers need and speed planning and delivery of new revenue-generating offerings. Combine IoT data you are collecting with historical data to proactively identify areas of new work (i.e., new revenue). How can the information be presented to the customer to increase interaction and demonstrate a high level of customer focus? For example, provide call center employees with data that helps them suggest new products and services tailored to each customers’ needs and preferences.
- Improve control of operation processes
In addition to new capabilities, we can consider IoT's ability to improve and enhance controls. Examples can range from new visibility into the data to automating a control that combines IoT data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Consider how you are capturing data anomalies or gaps in your data collection for each control. Each anomaly should create a response and action. But the reality could be that the anomaly is not seen or reacted to in a timely manner. Look at each part of the infrastructure and what can be done to close the gap and improve and enhance controls.
The opportunities that come with IoT are enormous, and can be game-changing for virtually any business or organization, especially those that are embarking on a digital transformation. If you are actively implementing IoT solutions, best of luck! I look forward to hearing your feedback and success stories in the comments section of this blog!