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If your organization hasn't started an IoT deployment yet, it should consider one. But before embarking on a connected journey, be sure to understand the steps to IoT success.
Nemertes Research Group Inc. completed a study of how 403 organizations from around the world deploy IoT. It examined IoT projects for their organization, architecture and funding. One of the most critical aspects, however, was a deep dive into what these organizations were actually doing with IoT.
To measure what makes an IoT deployment successful, it grouped IoT initiatives into nine broad categories:
- Asset tracking and management. Sensors track items in real time, such as smart tool tracking -- keeping track of where tools are physically located -- and monitoring shipping pallets in logistics processes.
- System health monitoring. Sensors on inanimate objects in transit monitor the health of the objects, such as sensors on ship hulls to measure the presence of cracks or monitors on automobiles to measure gas consumption.
- Living health monitoring. Sensors on humans or animals monitor health.
- Capacity planning and management. Smart devices optimize the utilization of a resources, such as digital signage for conference room use or capacity management on a manufacturing line.
- Facility or environmental monitoring. Heating, temperature and humidity sensors monitor a general or specific environment, such as temperature sensors in a manufacturing process or data centers.
- Visual or audio remote monitoring. Cameras and microphones monitor remote locations, such as security cameras behind a store.
- Precision action. Intelligent devices take precision actions, such as robot-assisted manual manufacturing process or robot-assisted surgery.
- Customer engagement. Organizations use IoT to engage customers more effectively, such as capturing data on specific items sold in the point-of-sale transaction monitor.
- Distance action. IoT devices that can take action at a distance, such as flying drones to repair remote facilities or to deliver organs for transplant.
Of these, Nemertes found that asset tracking and management was the most common IoT initiative. Thirty-one percent of study participants deployed it, as compared with the next-most common initiative, system health monitoring, deployed at 16%.
But those statistics don't tell the whole story. The research also looked at what the companies with the most successful IoT initiatives focused on.
What defines successful IoT use cases?
Nemertes asked participants to select their primary goal in deploying each specific IoT initiative: driving new revenue, saving money or improving business processes. Participants were forced to choose only one as their primary goal.
Next, the participants quantified that benefit. Nemertes selected the top 33% of initiatives and created a success pool. To qualify for that success pool, organizations had to generate at least $2.5 million in revenue, save $1.25 million in revenue or improve business processes by 36%, normalized by company size.
Analyzing the data, the study found differences between what the successful and less-successful organizations did. Successful IoT initiatives were more likely to focus on capacity planning, 17% vs. 9% of less-successful initiatives, and somewhat more likely to focus on system health monitoring, 18.3% vs. 14.2%. They were less likely to focus on asset tracking, 24% vs. 36%; facility or environmental monitoring, 11.3% vs. 14.2%; and customer engagement, 8.5% vs. 12.3%. For the other initiative types, there was no significant difference between successful IoT initiatives and less successful initiatives.
Does this mean you should focus on capacity planning or system health monitoring and ignore asset tracking, environmental health monitoring or customer engagement? No, because the study also showed successful IoT initiatives are undertaken by firms that have greater experience working with IoT over a longer period of time.
It's clear that most organizations deploy IoT in a stepwise fashion. First, start with the table stakes using IoT to track assets, monitor facilities and the environment or engage customers. Once the organization has mastered the basics, move on to unlock the real potential of IoT: coupling it with effective predictive analytics and robotic process automation to deliver capacity planning and proactive system health monitoring.
If you want to deploy IoT in your organization, start with the basics -- asset tracking, facilities monitoring and customer engagement -- and once you've developed a clear win, move on to the more sophisticated initiatives. Measure your success by revenue generated, costs saved or business process optimized.