Seven years ago, I ran a design team on behalf of a telco customer, looking to identify how the Internet of Things (IoT) was going to transform its client’s business.
The design project was a success - despite the fact that much of the technology was nascent - e.g. beacons hadn’t been invented and we had to rely upon RFID. Supermarket shelves got stocked automatically and passing trade was advertised to, based upon previous buying patterns. The telco’s wholesale-only client found itself with a retail interface to consumer buying patterns which allowed it to influence buying behaviour directly and manage stock accordingly.
Amazingly, that telco still exists despite not having done terribly much in the IoT space ever since.
And the wholesale client is still trying to figure out the next big thing in retail behavioural science, meanwhile having relegating IoT roll-outs to its supply chain processes.
In other words, the IoT is not new and there’s enough of it about to know what works and what doesn’t.
IoT is really all about getting your customers to buy into a future that is inevitable and inexorable., before someone else does something horrid to them, like steal their lunch!
Good news! - Convincing customers about IoT is getting increasingly easy to do, and it's being led by consumer trends.
It’s been nearly four years since I connected up my Philips Hue lights to IFTTT so that whenever I leave the house, the lights automatically turn off, and when I return, they switch back on again if it’s dark outside. And there’s three other IoT-related products hooked up to the Internet installed in my house already.
But I’m still waiting for someone to cost-effectively find a way of connecting wifi-enabled power sockets to my own little grid so that I can ensure the iron and the hot water are off also. With the amount of current coursing through the cottage, I would need something like 50 wifi power connectors, and at £60+ each, I’m not sure I can be bothered yet.
But in new house builds, this need for smarter tech is already being factored in. You can be sure that the smart home, with its smart power and smart meters is here already.
And as the smart home becomes ubiquitous, it means IoT at “consumer scale”, and that’s clearly worth building a business around.
An ex-colleague just took on the mantle of IoT lead for the biggest car company in America. (That’s going to be one fun job!)
And in the enterprise space, another ex-colleague is already having fun, spearheading “Smart City” IoT projects that connect urban lighting, parking, public safety, pollution & waste management, and municipality department projects together.
Result? Massive savings for local governments and added-value for consumers of their services.
In central government circles, our much lauded UK National Health Service will run out of steam due to demographic change unless it uses IoT to deliver services more effectively. That will include collection of data from smart watches and other personal devices and delivery of this data to connected hospitals and doctors for anomaly detection and primary care response.
Agriculture has been using satellites and soil sensors to help land management for years, even in the third world, but mining hasn’t really got started yet, preferring for example explosives rather than ocean sifting to find more gold.
So pretty much every vertical is using IoT - or is about to use IoT as a way to deliver new revenues and lower costs. All it took was:
If your technology business hasn’t figured out yet how IoT is going to impact your chosen markets – and you - then that’s probably the most important strategy review you can do.
Starting now. Unless you’ve can time travel, in which case yesterday would be better. :-)
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