With so much information about IoT out there, you may feel reluctant about reading this blog post – but don’t. This is one you’ll be happy you read.
Do you remember where you were or what you were doing the first time the term ‘Internet of Things’ caught your attention? I do. I was sitting in a cubicle in Austin, Texas reading an article on how small embedded processors were expected to become in the next five years. Then I saw it, Internet of Things, and I thought, they have finally run out of words. As it turns out, Internet of Things (IoT) was pretty catchy.
Looking at Google metrics, the search term “IoT” reached a peak in mid-October 2016, just a few short months ago. This means the relative interest in the term IoT was higher the week of October 16, 2016, than it had ever been prior.
For those of us in the hi-tech community, there is no shortage of IoT-related blogs, research, benchmarking surveys, case studies, demos, newsfeeds, LinkedIn Groups, Reddit ‘subreddits’, books, presentations, consultants and the list goes on. It’s tempting to tune it all out and dismiss it as hype or at best a distant possibility, isn’t it?
In fact, for the last five years, research firm Gartner has devoted a 68-page master “Hype Cycle for the Internet of Things” to explore the critical issues for enterprises implementing, or planning to implement, IoT projects. (By the way, if you’ve never seen a Gartner Hype Cycle, I recommend checking this one out. If you’re weary of IoT-washing, you’ll appreciate their categorization of broader IoT adoption into phases, like “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and my favorite, the “Trough of Disillusionment.” You can access the entire Gartner Hype Cycle for IoT through our IoT newsletter).
A countdown of the four reasons why you probably don’t want to read this blog and why you should reconsider
So, in the spirit of snubbing the hype, this particular IoT blog provides four reasons why some of us feel the urge to look the other way when yet another IoT piece finds itself in our sights – but should maybe reconsider.
“We’re among the few doing IoT, so we’ve earned the right to not read this blog.”
Fair enough. If you’ve successfully implemented an IoT solution or platform, you know you’re among the minority, but perhaps not for much longer. Some of you are at the tip of the spear, transforming your businesses through the power of a machine-to-machine network. To illustrate this point, research experts IDC found “about half (49%) of the manufacturers in the United States are already using IoT” and worldwide manufacturing adoption of IoT is at 31%. This aligns closely to what Gartner found in their 2016 study on IoT adoption, with 29% having adopted at the time of the survey and an estimated “43% of organizations using or planning to implement IoT in 2016.”
So, if you’re in the camp of early adopters and implementers of IoT, rest assured you’re still the cool kids on the playground but the others are on to you and will soon want their turn, too.
“IoT in my industry must still be at least five years away, so I’m going to read about something else.”
Depending on your industry and the application of IoT, you could argue your case. Or, you may be in danger of missing the opportunity to carve out a distinct competitive advantage for yourself. Here’s an example that might surprise you: one of IFS’ customers, a pest control company based in Europe, introduced digital traps to deal with rodent problems. These types of traps enabled the company to provide better service to B2B customers. Especially in sectors like the food industry, reliable pest control is extremely important. The traps generate warnings and alerts that are sent to field service personnel. Determining the appropriate response time, taking SLAs into account and understanding whether the trap’s motion sensors were reporting activity or whether a trap needed to be emptied was very time-consuming. Now that the sensors are connected to the business systems using IoT technology, field service technicians can be scheduled much more efficiently.
In the future, customers will be provided with specific and to-the-point reporting on how well the pest control is working. Also, as more data is collected, it will become possible to apply machine learning to things like the remaining life of batteries. Battery discharge is influenced by the environment in which a trap is in, and being able to predict when a battery replacement is needed will further improve efficiency and quality of service.
“Most IoT writing talks about big picture ideas of what IoT will be and not how it’s being applied today in the real world with actual companies.”
Depending on what you’re reading, you may have a point. One of the challenges in IoT thought leadership research and writing today is that it is too broad or, if specific, highlights possible industrial use cases, often well informed, but the actual public examples of real manufacturing and asset-intensive companies applying the technologies to real problems and getting real results are scant. This may be partially tied to the point above, where organizations want to retain a competitive advantage for as long as they can and not reveal how they’re squeezing costs out of their operations by automating critical business processes. Or it may be because we’re still making our way up that Peak of Inflated Expectations.
“All this IoT information is overwhelming and I don’t know where to start (so I don’t want to read any more IoT blogs).”
We hear that first bit a lot, and it’s a reasonable perspective on this whole IoT craze. We tell our customers that IoT-enabled digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight, at least not for most. It’s not realistic to imagine flipping a switch and all of a sudden, our assets are lit up with sensors that deliver actionable information seamlessly into our systems.
What we’ve found, for most organizations, is that this transformation starts quite small, perhaps with the automation of one part of a larger process. Just think about those rodent traps. Monitoring for their volume of unwanted guests is one element of a larger service delivery process, which had to first be tested, and ultimately trust had to be built in a new process.
At the end of the day, new technologies mean change. By nature, most of us are skeptical of new things and collectively we don’t readily embrace change – we want to see evidence that it’s worth the risk that we can trust in the new, that it won’t jeopardize our business or ultimately our jobs. So yes, change can be difficult, but I think Jack Welch said it best, “change before you have to.”
Dear reader, if you made it to the end of this blog, congratulations! Perhaps you’re not as skeptical about IoT as you think!
 IDC, “Perspective: IoT Accelerates in Manufacturing”, Dec. 2016
Prasit Photo (Photographer). Smart city and wireless communication network [digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/license/638456352
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