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Time to get 'a good peripheral vision' with IoT

Time to get 'a good peripheral vision' with IoT

Industry leaders discuss issues that need to be factored upfront before organisations deploy connected ‘things’

Michael Stribling, managed services tribe lead, Spark

Michael Stribling, managed services tribe lead, Spark

“We believe IoT is moving into becoming cornerstone part of the way we do business,” says Michael Stribling, managed services tribe lead at Spark New Zealand.

He says in China, there are now 960 million IoT devices live and transmitting data, and many of them are in smart city applications.

These include the 100,000 sensors installed on a 1,400 kilometre waterway or canal, which he calls “the great wall of IoT”.

Other IoT use cases are not as massive, says Stribling, at the recent Spark forum on ‘The Internet of Awesome Things’.

There is the smart hairbrush which assesses hair quality and brushing techniques, and a toaster where you can send messages to your friend. The message will be printed on the toast.

IoT devices  will be used for all kinds of things, from simple to complex, ‘dumb’ to intelligent, personal to industrial, and can be static, mobile or wearable, says another speaker, Neil Osmond, distinguished analyst and vice president at Gartner.

By 2022, one million IoT devices will be purchased every hour

Neil Osmond, Gartner

Connected things are everywhere, he states. 

In fact, Gartner predicts By 2022, one million IoT devices will be purchased every hour.

These devices, he adds, will be able to do all kinds of things such as measurements, talk to other ‘things’, produce data and be components of digital twins.

Osmond says the devices could be a connected light bulb, ‘a simple thing’ or a global supply chain with sensors all right through it.

“People are going to adopt them really quickly.”

IoT will release a tsunami of data, he stresses.

Wanted: Centre of IoT excellence, digital ethics policy

But with this volume of connectivity and data, there will be some challenges for the organisation, not only the ICT team.

They have to be prepared for a range of challenges such as provisioning, bandwidth and integration into business processes.

“How do we provision that, where do we keep the data? What data do we keep, what are the privacy and security issues?”

“Those challenges are starting to surface.”

Create a ‘centre of excellence with IoT within the organisation… You need a cross-dimensional team thinking about the challenge

Neil Osmond, Gartner

Osmond relates the example of a US company that used IoT to target ‘pain points’ in its supply chain.

This company transports and distributes blood and plasma products. It has to meet strict compliance on temperature when the product gets out of cold storage and goes into a truck and a refrigeration unit. The products have to be certified and doing this was a manual process.

“They were losing literally millions of dollars a month as temperature certification paperwork was lost,” says Osmond. This meant they had to discard these valuable products.

The ICT team added sensors to pallets to monitor the temperature in real-time. They worked with the logistics team for a multi-phased roll out. The payback was 18 months.

Not only has it solved a lot of problems in terms of reducing costs and improving revenue, it has also changed their conversation with the insurance company, says Osmond. They can prove they are lowering their risk and thus can get lower insurance premiums.

The company also created a new service,  providing plasma and blood ‘on demand’, and is now looking at new supply models.

The ICT team of the said company had to work through some issues, says Osmond.

One of this was the security of data. What data do they keep, how long do they keep it, who is going to pay for the platform that needs to support that?

This example shows key issues organisations need to work with as they deploy the Internet of Things, he notes.

Osmond says on average, payback from IoT projects is three years, with a maximum of five years in general.

But, as the company providing blood and plasma products shows, it can be achieved in a shorter time frame. 

He says another company in Central Europe also achieved a payback in a short time frame, while highlighting the importance of ensuring IoT deployments are not done in isolation.

Credit: Spark NZ

Machines do the heavy lifting so people can focus on the critical thinking

Nathalie Morris, Qrious

This company had an opportunity to upgrade the telemetry that monitors the train units. The deployment team looked at using wireless and other IoT-like solutions to improve the remote monitoring and control of operations of these trains.

As they looked closer, they noted that the train managers would always get off the train, walk on a platform and push a button for each train movement

They asked whether they can automate some of the tasks, put sensors in place and thus save the train manager 15 seconds every time.

“Is that compelling? Not really,” says Osmond.

But a member of the deployment team noted its impact on overall resilience and availability of the train network.

From a productivity point of view, it meant multiplying 15 seconds times 10,000 movements a day. 

“That is huge,” says Osmond. “This is the value of having a cross organisational team involved in this.”

He says another key message to think about IoT is around managing data: What data is available? Where and when should we process it?

What are policies around managing data? Do we need a digital ethics policy?

He advises against focusing on the “shiny thing”, the IoT device, and not thinking about the business problem or challenge around data.

For instance, if a drone goes past a window, what do you do with the data? “Those things you don't think about upfront,” he says. 

He thus encourages organisations to “get a good peripheral vision with IoT.” 

Work with partners who can help you build that vision and see the potential of IoT, he advises.

He also calls for creating a “centre of excellence with IoT” within the organisation. 

“This is about making good business decisions and improving business process” he points out. “It is all about data and you need to have a big business view on that.”

“You need a cross-dimensional team thinking about the challenge,” he adds.

Clarify strategic objectives at the centre of excellence, and identify potential senior champions, he says.

Organisations can also identify a handful of tactical projects that align with their strategic objectives and have the potential for success in three to six months. 

Read more: TSB works with Temenos to upgrade online account opening and onboarding

The new productive oil well 

Another speaker, Nathalie Morris, chief executive of Qrious, observes: “IoT is all about data”.

“If data is the new oil, IoT can be a productive oil well,” says Morris.

IoT can result in better customer experience as organisations are able to provide personalised recommendations and pricing offers, she says.

She mentions their work with a power company that provides smart metres.

Customers can access a dashboard to see their consumption and benchmark this against other households.

She says this service has led to reduced customer churn, and created  differentiation “in a market that is difficult to differentiate”.

“The growing adoption of connected things means there is an increasing amount of data generated, and our ability to create value from this will depend on our ability to use the data effectively,” she says.

IoT is the new valuable data in the room, she states. “How can you combine IoT data with other sources to create additional value and supercharge it?

“Create a fuller picture by combining all your data sources,” she states.

Data from farm sensors, for instance, can be combined with agricultural supply pricing data. This can help determine when to purchase supplies and when to apply them to the farm.

“The true value is in actionable intelligence.”

Dashboards are useful, she states, “how do we make sense of them?”

She says organisations are moving from prescriptive analytics to advanced analytic techniques like machine learning that allows organisations to deliver “higher intelligence” to customers. “Why it happened, what happens next?”

The value is not in the IoT or data but in insights, recommendations, predictions and actions that can be derived from that data to augment human decision-making.

This, she says, will create an opportunity for automated decision-making in the future.

“Machines do the heavy lifting so people can focus on the critical thinking.”

“We can’t afford to stand still,” is Spark CEO Jolie Hodson’s call to action on IoT. She says Spark has built a 5G lab where organisations can co-create IoT solutions. ”Use [these] tools to deliver something that gives you a bit of a competitive edge.”  Credit: Spark NZ
“We can’t afford to stand still,” is Spark CEO Jolie Hodson’s call to action on IoT. She says Spark has built a 5G lab where organisations can co-create IoT solutions. ”Use [these] tools to deliver something that gives you a bit of a competitive edge.”

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Tags innovationGartnerbig dataroboticsInternet of ThingsCustomer Experience5GSpark NZethics of big dataCIO50Michael StriblingJolie HodsonNathalie MorrisNeil Osmonddataco-create

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