It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that IoT is the start of something entirely new, rather than an end state in itself. The real prize is in how IoT — and a global host of connected devices — will add new context to data already being gathered through existing digital, analogue and manual means. However, taking advantage of this opportunity has not been easy. According to McKinsey, as much as 70% of IoT projects remain stuck in the proof of concept phase, rather than moving to deployment. IoT adopters need to be able to show real business value as well as how IoT solves a particular problem, and it all comes down to obtaining a complete picture of the data.
To make this happen, we need to bring the physical and digital realms into close harmony. We also need to ensure that there is clear transparency and consent when obtaining customer data. As we analyze data, we must ask ourselves whether the data comes from IoT devices, or from digital engagement. Privacy and security must be treated as first class citizens and not as an afterthought for IoT to thrive. All of this is a complex technology task, but one that is surmountable.
Transforming business outcomes through IoT data
A real-world example of the data-driven opportunity is in the retail space, where the combination of IoT-enabled physical stores and shoppers’ online buying preferences are opening new possibilities. These IoT-enabled stores are becoming more prevalent as retailers look to drive omnichannel personalized experiences, seamless checkout and tailored offerings for their shoppers. Value comes from the ability to combine previously siloed, in-store IoT real-time data with a shopper’s digital engagement, such as the store’s mobile apps and loyalty programs, to provide a more holistic experience. That experience includes delivering coupons tailored to shoppers’ buying histories, providing personalized recommendations from an in-store associate and optimizing inventory and product availability.
At the end of the day, it is about interacting with the shopper through their preferred channels, giving them unique experiences and providing tailored offers that drive loyalty, which ultimately leads to repeat business. According to an Arm Treasure Data study, nearly 50% of shoppers would consent to companies using their data if it meant getting the right rewards and incentives.
This is just one example of a real-world scenario in retail. Another example is a building owner bringing together data from HVAC, security, lighting and IoT devices to obtain a unified view of building operations to drive cost savings and enhance customer experiences. The value is replicable across industries as data silos are removed and separate data sets are brought together.
Making data security and privacy a priority
Bringing the physical and digital worlds together paints a far richer data picture. It also means there needs to be an added emphasis on security and privacy whenever data is involved, whether that is a retailer delivering more personalized customer experiences or a property manager using IoT technologies to better understand use of their commercial building space.
Security is vital as adversaries continue to get more advanced in their attack methods, and the cost of cybercrime for organizations continues to grow. Data security starts from the ground up, with IoT devices built and tested on secure frameworks. Organizations should look for IoT data management solutions that support secure management of the physical IoT device and its data throughout the lifecycle, and securely unify a broad set of enterprise digital data with IoT data.
Privacy concerns on how data is being collected, used and stored make transparency and consent critical. They must be addressed. For example, in the retail scenario described above, consent can be obtained via an opt-in through a store’s mobile app or loyalty program. The data management solution should provide tools and features to enact and manage leading privacy capabilities within applications that collect, store and utilize data.
Unlocking new possibilities with IoT data
The combination of physical IoT and digital information presents a wealth of opportunity for organizations across industries to transform their businesses. Organizations should look at IoT solutions that enable them to securely unify, store and analyze all of this data to deliver actionable insights. Ultimately, the true value of IoT will be achieved if data can be harnessed to solve real business challenges at scale, while also keeping security and privacy at the forefront.
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