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Today, businesses around the world in every industry are demonstrating that the Internet of Things (IoT) is more than just hype. IoT is having a meaningful impact on a global scale across categories as diverse as agriculture, healthcare, robotics, transportation, utilities and many more. And innovative enterprises in each of these categories are leading the IoT charge by putting connectivity at the heart of their business strategies.

How does IoT transform businesses?

One of the most important things to understand is that the Internet of Things is not about things, it’s about service. We’ve been saying this for years, and the Accenture ‘Living Services’ report published earlier this year concurs – IoT is all about transforming companies from selling static products to delivering dynamic services. This means that, in order to be successful, companies need to first think about the service they want to enable, then work backwards.

In order to do this, though, you must first understand the critical components of deploying an IoT service. These key elements are:

  • Devices – Embedded connectivity can turn virtually anything – a car, a robot, a vending machine, a security system, e-readers, pacemakers, beer kegs and more – into a connected device that benefits from real-time connectivity.
  • Mobile networks – Mobile networks provide internet connectivity for your devices locally, nationally and globally so you can deliver your IoT service. Mobile networks are the preferred form of connectivity for the majority of IoT deployments because of widespread availability and security, however WiFi and other transport layers are in use as well.
  • Applications – IoT applications vary widely depending on the device, industry and services you wish to deliver. These software applications utilize the data from your connected devices, integrating with corporate IT systems, to run the business and deliver a host of services to your customers ranging from streaming infotainment for connected cars to automated emergency response for home security systems.
  • IoT service platforms – An IoT service platform is the catalyst that enables you to get the most out of your devices, networks and applications. Optimized for companies looking to transform from product to service businesses, cloud-based IoT service platforms enable companies to launch, manage and monetize IoT services rapidly, cost effectively and on a global scale.
With these elements in place, IoT presents a golden opportunity to offer a myriad of different kinds of services that enhance the customer experience while enabling new revenue streams. In the manufacturing industry for example, it has been shown that IoT enabled robots are capable of increasing productivity, optimizing performance and reducing operational costs for customers. The companies who make these robots are able to deliver on that promise by providing IoT services such as continuous monitoring, troubleshooting, remote diagnostics, and predictive maintenance. They can monitor their robots from anywhere in the world, automatically pinpointing, preventing and resolving issues proactively, in real time. And the demand for these services continues to increase, particularly in cases where a minute of down-time can cost a manufacturer tens of thousands of dollars.

Each industry, and for that matter each company, needs to identify the services that are most meaningful and valuable to their customers. In turn those will help drive business transformation and unlock new revenue streams.

How can I make sure that IoT delivers value to my business and my customers?

Choosing a cloud-based IoT platform will give you the real-time visibility and control to manage your connected services business and ensure the best possible customer experience. The Software as a Service (SaaS) model delivered through the cloud delivers speed, efficiency and global access while lowering the cost of entry and supporting business scalability and agility.

GM, one of the world’s largest automakers, has long leveraged an IoT platform to connect its vehicles. As a result, they have been able to transform the vehicle from a static product into a hub for an entire ecosystem of dynamic connected services. These services offer a variety of new experiences to consumers and reveal a goldmine of opportunities for businesses across sectors. From enabling services like streaming infotainment, usage-based insurance, and safety & security services like crash detection and response – IoT has transformed GM’s business from simply selling cars to delivering a more personalized, service-driven driving experience for their customers. And this results in more diverse, recurring revenue streams for GM.

If I manage and control the IoT platform does that mean I have to handle all the processes?

The automation of IoT processes is critical to allow you to focus on the core parts of your operations that drive value. Any attempt to manually handle processes like management, support diagnostics and billing and provisioning of services would be highly inefficient and costly to do manually – especially as the number of connected devices you have increases.

Take a look at ShotSpotter, a private gunshot detection company based in the US that converted its business to an IoT service. ShotSpotter is now able to detect all gunshots through sensors that are connected to the internet, enabling the company to manage a network of thousands of connected devices around the world. This is a dramatic change from previously, when ShotSpotter used to implement and manage all networked sensors manually, having to connect to each one individually with no unified view of what was happening across all sensors.

How far and how fast can I grow my IoT service?

As you plan your IoT business you need to think about choosing business partners whose approach and technology is both flexible and scalable. It’s important to choose an IoT platform that enables you to easily and cost-effectively introduce IoT services to market, and one that has global reach so that you can easily scale those services to other countries as customer demand requires.

Make sure the IoT platform you select is integrated with mobile operator networks worldwide. This will enable you to integrate with that platform once, and then easily scale your IoT services while maintaining global visibility and control through a single operational standard and interface. This gives you the power to go to market anywhere for faster revenue growth.

How would you advise businesses to fully capitalize on IoT?

It’s important to learn from best practices, even if the tips and inspiration come from different industries. In agriculture for example, companies like Semios are capitalizing on IoT to increase crop yields, preserve precious resources and improve sustainability and profitability. In healthcare, companies like Motech are using IoT to provide telecare that gives active seniors independence. The number of innovative ways companies are using IoT to transform their business and enable a host of new value-added services is amazing.

By Macario Namie, VP Strategy at Jasper