Three Things You Need to Know: Advice from An IoT Expert
In the race to go digital, most businesses today are considering IoT projects. But there are still some key questions about impact, security and value that are obstacles to adoption. I sat down with Maribel Lopez, an IoT and mobile expert and head of Lopez Research, to get some tips for business leaders to think about before embarking on IoT projects.
One key piece of advice from Maribel, “Everyone is looking for the killer IoT app but oftentimes it’s a combination of mundane things that offfer big opportunities for efficiency.”
See below for three other pointers.
Digital is Different and so is Data
Businesses have been going digital for a long time, since the days when e-commerce was hot.
For example, in retail, digital used to mean replicating the shopping experience online. Now it’s about locating the customer in the store, giving you a 3D view of the customer and the thing. Now things can talk to you and tell you if something is wrong or seems weird.
What’s different about digital transformation today is the availability of different types of information. You’re not just digitizing paper processes. We now have different sources of information about weather, location, usage, etc. that wasn’t available before.
Data provides the power and opportunity in IoT use cases.
It gets really interesting when you think about what you can do with that information. Now that it’s cheaper to go digital, you can use the cloud – like the SAP HANA Cloud Platform — to build apps that take advantage of that data. It’s a perfect storm of cheaper sensors, more data sources, and an ability bootstrap in the cloud.
Make Security a Priority from Day One
You can never be overly concerned with security. But security should not stall your IoT projects.
Too often, people think about security after the IoT system is in place but you need to be thinking about it while you’re designing it. Like with mobile, IoT is up and down the stack and pervasive so need to think about the security the whole time and bake it in — from the sensors to network to apps.
Security is not sexy like user interfaces so often it’s the last thing designers consider before shipping a product. But you need to start with security in mind because it’s hard to add later.
Define Value: Cost Efficiency or Transformation
There are a couple of ways to use IoT. The first two focus on saving and making money. The third case is the ability to do something you couldn’t do before.
In the first case, it’s relatively easy to show value — like with predictive maintenance. Then the question is what scenario will save you the most money? You need to consider what’s most important to your business and your key KPIs over the next year. Some people have very specific goals – they want to sell products twice as fast or increase quality control.
Then you can look at how IoT will help improve the product’s performance (either in sales or quality) and make decisions about how IoT can impact change the most quickly.
While you’re defining your IoT use case, make sure you can tie it to your stated KPIs for the next year or two. That will help you pick the right solution, get executive traction, know what you want to accomplish and be in line with your business.
Then there’s the case of digital transformation. Take the Disney Magic Band – a bracelet connected to sensors all over the park that helps visitors do everything from access their hotel room to function as your ticket to the park.
The Disney Magic Band is really different – it was designed to help improve park vistor’s experience, reduce the wait on lines, improve cross-sell and upsell to customers. It’s unlikely that the project is going to save Disney money but did it improve KPIs? Yes.
That was a billion dollar project but it put Disney in a totally different place in terms of customer experience and business models.