We all know full well by now that the internet of things is well established in the technology universe, and it’s continuing to grow, spreading roots across a variety of industries. Take manufacturing, for example. Because of the growing IoT and industrial IoT, factories are now getting smart. The manufacturing industry is currently in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, which combines cyber-physical systems with automation and IoT to form the aforementioned smart factory. However, incorporating IoT into machines isn’t as simple as putting nuts and bolts together; rather, it requires a fundamental organizational shift to elevate from machine-to-machine and machine-to-human interactions to full-fledged machine-to-business connectivity. Enter “machine as a service.”
In a nutshell, machine as a service encompasses a factory machine’s contributions to business goals through IIoT connectivity. Machines are becoming a comprehensive business asset to manufacturing companies, not only driving sales by generating product, but also increasing business revenue through the growth and scalability that come with automation and IoT. Customers don’t just buy the oil, metal and other elements that make up the machine — they now buy a “subscription” to the IoT connectivity that provides ongoing service and benefits, leading to the concept of machine as a service. Specifically, machine as a service is comprised of two key components: service lifecycle management and customer touchpoints.
Service lifecycle management
Service lifecycle management — which traditionally involved installation, maintenance and repair — is the foundation upon which machine as a service is built. In ages past, installation would mean the assembly of various physical parts and materials. You’d perform maintenance as often as industry standards would recommend (e.g., oil changes every 5,000 miles). When your machine breaks down, you’d repair it.
As the world of technology accelerates on IoT’s coattails, the same goes for the three processes of installation, maintenance and repair. Installation now involves the implementation of an operating system within your machine that will, in turn, connect it to IoT. With this greater connectivity comes an accelerated pace and frequency of machine-to-human interactions. Your machines will now proactively remind you when they need maintenance. Additionally, if something is about to break — or is already broken — your machine will be the first to let you know. This then allows your business to run at a faster pace, increasing production and bolstering your revenue numbers.
The lifeblood of this greater connectivity lies within the operating system and related software updates. However, the software and service behind your machine not only allows it to do what it’s supposed to do, but also enables it to do more than it was designed to do. Which leads to the second point …
Similar to service lifecycles, customer touchpoints also revolve around two traditional stages: the sale of the product and the maintenance/repair of the product. IoT connectivity is catalyzing these two interactions with customers, as it brings on a heightened pace and standard of customer expectations. The machine as a service is fine-tuned to help your business keep up with these heightened demands. However, it also offers an opportunity to dive deeper into a third emerging stage of customer touchpoints: upsell and expansion opportunities.
While the operating systems and software updates support IoT connectivity in your machines, they also offer a chance to expand the portfolio and capabilities of the machine, extending its usage before the true end of life of the product. Your machines are no longer stagnant entities; within the confines of the functionalities listed in the user manual, they’re now dynamic business assets. IoT opens a plethora of opportunities for expanded uses, extending the shelf life of a product that would have been otherwise phased out. This allows your machines to keep pace with the scalability of your IoT-connected business, enabling you to drive business growth and continue to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations.
The IoT-driven future
Machine as a service is just one example of the greater productivity and functionality that an IoT-connected device brings. Across many verticals, we’re seeing widespread IoT adoption to keep pace with today’s technological advancements. As consumers embrace the accelerated world of IoT, the onus is on the business to think outside the box to ensure its products and services stay ahead of the curve and continue to satisfy business goals.
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