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Many organizations see the value of incorporating an IoT deployment to optimize their business processes, but it can be hard to know where to begin.
Nemertes Research Group Inc. conducted a study of IoT initiatives at 403 organizations, across a range of verticals and sizes in 12 countries.
The study looked at participants' use of IoT, governance and organizational practices, and the technologies they used to understand how to make an IoT deployment succeed.
The study defined successful IoT initiatives based on their stated goals: to save money, drive new revenue or increase operational efficiency.
Nemertes broke down the use cases for initiatives into nine basic categories to determine what organizations were actually using IoT for and what makes an IoT deployment effective, as seen in Figure 1. Asset tracking and management was the most commonly cited successful IoT initiative. System health monitoring was next, followed by facility or environmental monitoring.
The highest-success groups were significantly more likely to deploy IoT for capacity planning and system health monitoring and less likely to deploy IoT for asset tracking, customer engagement, and facility or environmental monitoring.
How to successfully plan an IoT deployment
Based on conversations with highly successful participants, Nemertes identified steps to guide those embarking on IoT journeys:
- Identify the business processes you wish to improve and define success metrics. IoT typically generates the biggest bang for its buck in scenarios where tracking and measuring are followed by optimization. First, organizations must find out the quantitative data of what is happening, such as how many cameras secure a building or how often employees use the conference room. Then, companies should seek to improve it. Organizations might seek to track assets and then optimize the use of those assets, or install IoT sensors in facilities to track environmental indicators, then conduct analytics to improve them. For example, if data shows that using south-facing conference rooms in the summer increases the air-conditioning bills, you can shift to using more shadowed rooms.
- Embed sensors to capture information. Install the asset-tracking or environmental-detection devices, and ensure they're appropriately linked to analytics tools.
- Conduct analysis to uncover trends. Once there is a solid data flow from the IoT sensors, organizations can begin to see the big picture of what's going on and what actions they might take to improve performance.
- Optimize performance. This is where initiatives like capacity planning come in. Once companies understand what their data indicates, they can begin to optimize it.
Highly successful firms are more likely to be at step three or step four above, which is one reason they're more likely to cite capacity planning and less likely to cite asset tracking as their most successful IoT initiatives.
The biggest ROI kicks in not from tracking assets or measuring the environment, but from optimizing processes in light of that information. It's critical to be able to correlate air-conditioning costs with conference room use for example, but the real savings kick in when businesses are able to take action on that information. Some companies will automatically lower shades in conference rooms or proactively increase air-conditioning in rooms likely to be used by large groups of people.
The conference room example is easy for the general administrator to grasp, but the same applies to more traditional IoT deployments in shipping, logistics and transport. For example, organizations that know the status and condition of their pallets can optimize the shipping practices for them.
Consider asset tracking or facilities monitoring the first step. What really matters isn't collecting or analyzing the information, but what companies can do with it.