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Originally posted at http://www.digitalistmag.com/digital-economy/2015/12/21/the-internet-of-things-dont-be-left-behind-03874216

by Nils Herzberg

Seaport --- Image by © George Hammerstein /Corbis

For the uninitiated, the Internet of Things (IoT) often conjures images of a science fiction-inspired world, where machines and devices talk to each other without human intervention. Cue the scary music and the creepy visual effects.

Others think of the IoT as a technology of the future, like flying cars or robot personal assistants. They believe the IoT offers interesting potential but is not relevant to their business today. Yet this assumption could not be further from the truth.

The IoT is a growing network of devices, appliances, machines, and other physical objects. These endpoints communicate using automated connectivity. And the IoT does all of this without people getting involved.

But the IoT is more than just technology. It offers a new way of doing business – one that will help you differentiate your company from the competition. Most importantly, the IoT already is happening now. I recommend to executives that they begin an IoT journey immediately. Companies that take a wait-and-see attitude to the opportunities enabled by the IoT will put themselves at a market disadvantage and risk being left behind.

Gain insight, take action

The IoT threatens to disrupt established business models and markets. Yet it also promises to help companies realize new efficiencies and enable new business models that can improve operational efficiencies. Some enterprises are already employing new IoT models to take action based on new insight.

Consider the example of the Port of Hamburg. The largest port in Germany and the second largest in Europe, Port of Hamburg processes 9 million shipping containers annually. Traffic is increasing and the Hamburg Port Authority expects volumes to rise to 25 million containers by 2025. Parking space is limited and traffic congests roadways throughout the port.

To increase the turnover of goods and reduce traffic, the port authority invested in a new “smart port logistics” project. By connecting a network of devices, appliances, machines, and other physical objects to its business systems, the port collects data from transportation companies, parking providers, container terminals, and traffic services. Supported by that data, the port offers an information service to carriers, trucking companies, and other key players in the logistics operations.

Truck drivers receive notices on their mobile devices when containers are ready for pickup. Alerts help them avoid traffic congestion or closed roads. Instead of showing up early and clogging the port with waiting tractor-trailers, drivers arrive precisely when the containers are ready to be loaded. As a result, port traffic is lighter, carriers incur less idle time, and container turnover is higher.

This is the IoT in action. And it’s a good choice for most companies, although some may need help understanding how to monetize it. I often ask business leaders, where would a better understanding of your market or real-world conditions help you improve efficiency, effectiveness, or revenue growth? Those are the areas where enterprises will find that IoT delivers real value.

Prepare for transformation

To help decision makers like you better understand the opportunities and urgency of the IoT, we’ve sponsored an executive brief authored by IDC analysts Lionel Lamy and Philip Carter. The paper is full of real-world examples of companies that are using IoT-based insight to transform their business models and soar ahead of competitors. It also discusses the key challenges – both technical and business – that enterprises face in adopting IoT strategies.

Meeting these challenges doesn’t have to be scary. The brief lays out the seven key steps you can take to pave the way to success with your IoT initiatives.

The IoT isn’t a far-off future or a sci-fi fantasy. It’s here, right now. It’s time to embrace new insight that can lead to profitable action. Are you ready to connect, transform, and reimagine your business models to meet the challenges of today’s hyperconnected digital economy?


For more information on the seven key steps needed to create a successful IoT strategy, read the IDC executive brief.

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