IoT for Business Success: Data-Driven Decision Making
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of those technologies that started as a buzzword, hype if you like. But the hype has transitioned quickly into reality. And now, we are witnessing IoT make its way into mainstream business in the practical sense.
It’s been a long time coming for the IoT concept though. The concept found its roots in a simple desire for a cold soda, back in the early 1980’s.
One day, David Nichols, then a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University’s computer science department, was thirsty for a soda. Aware that his fellow students were also big consumers of sodas, chances were high that the Coke machine could already be empty. He also didn't fancy drinking a warm soda.
So he hesitated to make the long trek to the Coke machine. What if he went and found the machine was already empty? What if he found there were some sodas, but all warm? Wasted time!
This dilemma sparked an idea in his mind. Why not remotely track the contents of the coke machine to eliminate the agony of uncertainty? David shared his brilliant idea with some friends and faculty. Together, they developed a program that allowed anyone with access to check the availability of Cokes in the machine and even determine which ones were cold.
This clever innovation served as a foundation for what we now recognize as The Internet of Things. It pioneered a transformative era where everyday objects and devices would be interconnected and able to communicate with each other. The rest is history.
IoT is now becoming a decision powerhouse, where data-driven decision making is possible at scale and in real-time. Businesses are leveraging IoT for success.
In this blog post, we explore how IoT is finding use in business.
Leveraging IoT for business success: How IoT is being applied in different industries
From smart homes to wearables, IoT is being used to make efficient decisions that inform business actions at the operations front. Many businesses across different industries have found success in this trend.
This explains why IoT application development is growing fast, projected to reach
over USD 88 billion by 2033, up from USD 21 billion in 2023. This represents a CAGR of about 15 percent during this period.
Here are the interesting use cases of IoT:
#1. IoT in homes
You must have heard the term “smart homes” quite often. It’s about enabling people to use technology to accomplish the mundane chores in the house. Typical examples include things like switching lights on and off, operating electronic gadgets such as TV/Radio, etc.
Picture this: you wake up in the morning, and your smart assistant gently adjusts the blinds, plays your favorite morning playlist, and brews your perfectly customized cup of coffee just the way you like it. As you leave for work, the smart thermostat optimizes energy usage, ensuring a comfortable environment while saving on utility bills. On your way back, you can even preheat the oven or start the washing machine remotely.
Smart homes also have the underlying advantage of promoting sustainability. They can monitor energy consumption and reduce waste.
But beyond mere convenience, IoT powered smart home solutions offer enhanced safety through stuff like smart locks, motion detectors, and real-time monitoring. This grants homeowners unparalleled peace of mind.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to evolve, smart homes promise to transform not just our living spaces but also the way we lead our lives. Talk of making futuristic living a present-day reality!
#2. IoT in finance
IoT is not limited only to the heavy industries. Even service industries like finance are also finding use for this technology.
One of the key areas where IoT is making an impact across finance is in retail banking. IoT-powered devices like smart ATMs and interactive kiosks provide customers with convenient self-service options. Wait times are reduced significantly, and this offers a smart way to enhance accessibility to banking services. These devices can also gather customer data, which banks can use to come up with tailored financial products.
IoT devices are also being used for payment transactions. A prominent application in this niche is contactless payment methods like NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled cards and mobile wallets.
Risk management is another area where IoT is being used by businesses in the finance industry. IoT sensors are employed to monitor assets and properties. For instance, insurance companies can utilize IoT devices in homes and vehicles to gather data on potential risks. The collected data allows them to offer personalized insurance plans and adjust premiums based on individual patterns.
We have also started to see the emergence of the "smart finance" concept. Here, data from various IoT devices, such as wearables and connected cars, is used to assess an individual's financial habits. The goal is to offer personalized financial advice to customers.
IoT is also streamlining back-office operations in the finance sector. For instance, in asset management, IoT sensors can be used to monitor and track the location and condition of high-value assets in real-time. This reduces the risk of loss or theft.
#3. IoT in healthcare
IoT-based health applications enable healthcare providers to better manage the health of their patients.
This is possible through a number of intelligent systems. Some examples include;
- Telehealth platforms
- Remote patient monitoring and treatment
- Ingestible sensors
- Glucose monitoring
- Connected inhalers
#4. IoT in retail
IoT is doing magic to shopping experiences. Through connected devices, it's possible to monitor customer purchase behaviors, analyze the data and use it to offer relevant recommendations.
IoT connected devices are also used to track inventory in real time, improve store navigation, and inform the store layouts. Another huge retail IoT use case is self-checkout.
Dive deep into use cases of IoT in the retail industry.
#5. IoT in farming
Talk to any farmer and you will likely hear stories about the complex nature of managing farms, especially the large farms. As pests attack one side of the farm, the other side is lacking water. All these factors can greatly hinder crop yield.
But IoT technology can improve the efficiency of farm management activities. This could include;
- Soil health monitoring
- Irrigation automation
- Automation of farm machinery/equipment, like tractors
- Climate monitoring
- Automation of green houses
- Livestock monitoring
- Using drones to plant
- Using drones to fight pests
All these combined is what is commonly referred to as “smart agriculture or farming”. The global agriculture IoT market size is projected to pass USD $84 billion by 2031.
#6. IoT in manufacturing
Manufacturing is one of the leading industries where IoT technology is being put to widespread use.
Sensors are embedded into equipment to gain real-time insights into production. These insights are used to inform various aspects, such as maintenance.
IoT technology is also being used in manufacturing to improve coordination between machines for improved productivity. Manufacturers can also achieve autonomous production units with IoT.
The massive amount of data collected from the connected machines is utilized to make decisions, which enable manufacturers to continuously improve their processes.
#7. IoT in supply chain management
We all know how complex the supply chains can get, regardless of the type of industry. There are so many moving parts that must coordinate. IoT technology is simplifying operations in this field.
Sensors are deployed throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing to logistics and distribution. Through these sensors, real-time data is captured. This data could be about inventory levels, product conditions, shipment status, etc.
How is this data utilized? An efficient supply chain relies on quick, correct decisions. So a technology that makes this possible at scale is a welcome relief for players in the supply chain sector. IoT-driven supply chain systems enable proactive decision-making, and this leads to benefits such as reduction in stockouts - thanks to optimal inventory management.
Transparency is also a major need in supply management, especially when goods are in transit. Owners of products in transit would like to have visibility into their goods. IoT-enabled tracking and monitoring ensure enhanced transparency. This allows stakeholders to trace the movement of goods and identify bottlenecks. Delays can be minimized and problems can be solved promptly.
#8. IoT in wearables
Wearables refer to a category of electronic devices that can be worn on the body or integrated into clothing and accessories. They are typically designed to track and monitor various aspects of the user's health, fitness, and daily activities.
These devices are equipped with sensors and often connect wirelessly to other devices like smartphones or computers.
Some common examples of wearables include smartwatches, fitness bands, activity trackers, smart rings, smart glasses, and even smart clothing.
The primary purpose of wearables is to provide users with real-time information about various aspects of their body such as physical activity, heart rate, sleep patterns, and other health-related metrics. They empower individuals to take charge of their well-being..
Beyond health and fitness applications, IoT powered wearables have found utility in other fields as well. For example, some smartwatches can display notifications from smartphones, control music playback, and even handle calls. This has effectively extended the functionalities of smartphones to a user's wrist.
#9. IoT in managing cities
The “smart cities” buzzword has been here for some time now. The good news is that its application is beginning to show results - thanks to IoT.
One key application is in traffic management in cities. Sensors are strategically placed at key intersections, roadways, and other critical points throughout the city. The sensors collect real-time data on various traffic parameters, such as vehicle density, speed, and flow. The collected data is transmitted to a centralized traffic management system that processes and analyzes the information.
The traffic management system uses advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence to interpret the data and trigger informed decisions in real-time. It can dynamically adjust traffic signals based on the current traffic conditions to ensure smoother traffic flow and minimize delays. For example, during peak hours, the system may prioritize green signals for the busiest directions to optimize traffic movement.
Other applications of IoT in cities include IoT-powered waste management systems, smart energy grids and public safety. Garbage collection routes are optimized based on fill levels, while smart energy grids leverage IoT sensors to monitor energy usage. In terms of security, intelligent surveillance systems can detect anomalies and track criminal activities.
#10. IoT in the automotive industry: connected vehicles
How about cars and vehicles connecting to the internet! Yes they are, and it’s called “automotive IoT”. This connection gives real-time updates. The updates can be about anything, including:
- Traffic updates
- Weather forecast
- Driver behavior
Autonomous vehicles are particularly seen as the future of transport, both personal and public. A report on Statista projects that the number of autonomous vehicles worldwide will reach 54 million in 2024.
Best practices for successful IoT adoption
All the use cases we have seen are amazing. So now you want to translate this to your business. These best practices should help you get your business to the bright side of IoT.
Select IoT technology that aligns with your unique environment
You may have realized from the above business cases that even within just one industry, the application of IoT technology can be quite vast. You’ll discover that different companies even within your niche are using IoT to achieve different goals.
So you first need to understand what you want to achieve with IoT. This will inform the kind of technology that will work best for your use case. Perhaps a good place to start is to discuss your bottlenecks with IoT professionals. They will advise the best technology to use and where its application will bring the greatest impact to your business.
Adhere to security best practices
The more the IoT connections, the more the risk. Cyber criminals love this kind of ecosystem, because it’s easy to find vulnerabilities.
The best way to approach security in IoT is to build strong security measures into your IoT systems right from the word go.
Integrate data from as many sources as possible
Data is the fuel that powers IoT, no question about that. All the connected things are supplying useful data that is combined to help make data backed decisions that trigger high impact business actions. What does this mean? The more the sources of data, the more data you have, and the more accurate your decisions get.
Of course, you’ll never reach a point and say that you now have enough data. You need to keep adding more data sources to your IoT system. Develop your IoT applications in a way that they will always accommodate more data sources.
Decision making may sound simple in theory, but it’s complex in reality!
One mistake that many business owners and managers often make is to look at decisions from a management perspective - the boardroom. This is not what we are talking about.
In this context, decisions imply operational decisions: The myriad of decisions that happen in the course of business operations. Think of a factory floor in operation, an airplane in motion, a fleet of ships in the high seas, thousands of patients with different medical requirements, logistics, etc. So many tiny decisions are constantly being made in operations. And the impact of each decision can be huge, however tiny.
So in applying IoT for your business, you need to think in terms of operational decision making. Look at the areas of your operations where quicker decisions will mean less risk and more revenue. These are the areas you need to deploy IoT technology.
Never make the mistake of assuming that your business needs no IoT technology for now. Some may think it’s still too early. But you know what, the earlier you start the better for your organization. That’s how you win the competition.
Before you go, please spare a few minutes and update yourself with the latest trends in IoT outsourcing.