February 13, 2019 - Some technologies are inevitable, even if what we eventually take for granted looks a bit different than the way it was originally conceived. No one would seriously question the value of mobile tech today, but in its infancy – personal digital assistants in the 1990s – it bore little resemblance to modern smartphones and tablets and was, at the time, anything but a sure bet. The Internet of Things is another great example of a tech that’s unavoidably becoming an essential part of the business ecosystem. Forbes, for example, estimates that the IoT will be a $1.2 trillion – with a “t” – business by 2022, with companies of all sizes investing in a foundation of smart, connected devices and the data streams they provide.
Of course, it’s one thing to know you need to invest in the IoT; it’s another thing to know the smartest play for your business. Even if you know it’s a good idea to launch your IoT strategy with several different initiatives – it increases your chances for an early ROI and invests more people in the success of the program – you will need to choose the right use cases for your business. Here are five of the most compelling use cases in IoT today.
Inventory management. Software developers talk about “killer apps” – an application so transformative that it gives you a reason to invest in the platform that the app lives on. Spreadsheets were the first killer app and sold millions of early PCs. For the IoT, many might consider automated inventory management to be the killer app, in part because it is relevant across so many different business sectors. Imagine a network of sensors that can track not just the location of every product in your supply chain, but also its condition (is your refrigerated produce cool enough or your fragile glass goods unbroken?). You can know how many items are on the shelf (and where those shelves are within the store or warehouse, for that matter). You’ll be able to track where everything is in the supply chain and automate ordering, processing, and transport.
Predictive maintenance. Another compelling use case for IoT that has important applications in of a vast number of businesses is predictive maintenance. Any company that relies on hardware – manufacturing equipment, automated kiosks, transportation, and so on – knows that maintenance is a significant cost center; being able to smartly provide predictive and preventative maintenance can save enormous amounts of time and money. IoT has the ability to identify when equipment requires maintenance and allow you to deliver it just in time – not too soon, racking up unneeded costs and not too late, resulting in downtime.
Optimized production. If you are involved in manufacturing or production, you will no doubt want to invest in tech that lets your systems self-optimize. With the right IoT tools in place, your gear can automatically respond to all the other equipment in a workflow. You can reduce waste and streamline the time and resources if all of your equipment works together without human input.
Patient monitoring. In the healthcare industry, being able to track the health and status of patients is its own holy grail. Not only can the IoT keep track of vitals remotely, but with the right sensors it can ensure patients are taking the right medication at the right time, be notified about falls and other accidents, remotely and automatically track recovery and healing progress, and get instant alerts when there is a critical problem.
Fleet management. Finally, fleet management is a use case that in some ways combines elements of inventory management with optimized production. With the right vehicle tracking tools, you can track your fleet of vehicles – delivery trucks, passenger cars, or any other kind of vehicle – in real time. You can let automated systems make smart decisions about routing vehicles and leverage your data to more efficiently maintain and rep[air them as well. You can use the information for better routing and even find unexpected ways to make your fleet operate more efficiently – like developing routes that rely on only right turns.
Find out how an IoT platform like Canopy can help your business turn a use case from an idea into a reality.