Exciting as the topic is, many of us struggle to articulate real business applications that the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used for. What we need are a few simple, memorable examples, and recently I’ve been collecting a few of these across different industries. I’ve tried to lay them out here without all the usual technical speak that usually accompanies them. I’d love to hear more; please add them in the comments below!
Retail: Clearing the Shelves
The retail industry has made great strides in optimizing stock and avoiding waste, but it continues to explore ways of improving further. The latest case I came across was using the IoT to shift aging inventory. By combining knowledge of what’s on the shelves and who’s in the store, it’s now possible to push personalized promotions to shoppers who are walking in the aisles where products need to be shifted. With deeper knowledge of the customers’ individual preferences, such promotions can be made even more effective.
Remote Workers: Keeping them Mobile
Any small business that depends on the reliability of its vehicles knows the cost of breakdowns (money, time, customer satisfaction, etc.) But what if you have thousands or tens of thousands of vehicles out in the field? How do you stay on top of those? The IoT can be used to monitor huge numbers of industrial vehicles in real time. By permanently tracking performance, problems can be anticipated and the cost of down-time avoided. What’s more, creative business models are also surfacing that will enable companies to make extra money by using the data to cross-sell and up-sell services through the customer service organization.
Oil & Gas. Small Improvements = Big Bucks
When you’re running equipment as big as an oil rig or pipeline, the cost of unscheduled downtime can run into the millions of dollars. To reduce it to a minimum you need to not only constantly monitor every component, but also have a super-fast way to anticipate and respond to parts failure. Connecting machine monitoring back to supply chain and repair systems can lead to massive cost savings by predicting when repairs will be needed and triggering the parts and personnel to carry them out before failures occur.
Airlines. Keep that Plane in the Air!
Keeping aircraft engines running smoothly is not only a safety matter – although that must be the primary consideration – it’s also the way to get the most out of planes that cost hundreds of millions of dollars each. The IoT is helping manufacturers continuously monitor aircraft engines and all their components using real-time predictive analytics. As a result, they can determine the remaining useful life of the engine, predict the time to parts failure, and keep planes safely in the air.
Public Safety. Beating the Car Thieves
Many cities and their police forces are looking to the IoT to help them get smarter and stay ahead of criminals. By combining video cameras and analytics it is now possible to automatically monitor huge amounts of video “data.” This in turn can be combined with existing information the police have on missing vehicles and crime hot spots to help prevent car theft and identify stolen cars.
All of these topics and more will be covered in more detail in the upcoming SAPPHIRE NOW, on May 14-16 in Orlando. Come and check them out!