A lot of times recently, I have come across the ideology that future IOT devices like home appliances should be able to work on their own and bring down the amount of stress that accompanies the chore of using their ‘dumb’ counterparts.
Most proponents among them create scenarios that show us how these IoT devices are going to communicate on their own, keeping us out of the decision-making process.
For e.g., one of the most oft-cited scenarios is that our fridge might check on whether some regular supplies are low, and order them to our nearest supermarket for a timely delivery. Sounds liberating right? Who wouldn’t want that kind of assistant in their home? One who can make daily chores like ordering groceries, all converted into an automated task. But this idea has its caveats that I believe haven’t been explored yet.
The most important piece missing in this whole automation mechanism are the retailers themselves.
Most IOT objects meant for functioning in our homes are either primed to just turn the machine on or off as per our needs, like a smart AC or even lights (a basic IOT device). Some need to be able to interact with the outside world in real time conversations.
The first kind of devices don’t need to be as advanced as the primary requirement of them is to just operate the machine, turning on or off at certain times, working to gauge readings like higher room temperature, etc.
However, the issue starts when the devices that need to interact with the outside world come into play. Retailers will be their primary points of contact, and either they are service-based like plumbing services or product based like the local drugstore. And no one has brought this important component of the whole process into the foray and explored the extent of the role it will need to play in order to make “Back to the Future”-like scenarios become a plausible reality.
Solving the Problem of Real-Time Order Bookings and Delivery:
The fridge sees that you lack bread and eggs for the next meal and it decides to order them. It decides to place your order at the local supermarket. But if one fridge is ordering, isn’t it possible that many other fridges in the vicinity will also be ordering different supplies based on their own requirements?
The supermarket is likely to see a surge in orders and all of them are complex and different and as unique as the people that buy them. And this where it gets complicated.
Order booking, delivery, and replenishment of crucial items daily or weekly will have to be done by these retailers and this cannot be authentically done if an SAP system isn’t in place.
What if your fridge’s order for bread lands at the supermarket at such a time when it’s out of bread? Will it place the order for replenishment then in real time or later? How will the device respond when it can’t receive a confirmation of its request? Will the device send the order to its pending list or will it try to place the order elsewhere?
IOT Success Depends on Backend Efficiency:
The retailer, its supply chain, real-time processing effectiveness, and its efficiency at keeping in pace with these machine-based orders will be crucial towards ensuring that IoT devices can run the home in the ‘smart’ manner proposed for them.
SAP systems are however not as widely present in such small scale enterprises which will probably make them exit the whole IOT based processes unless a drastic overhaul is brought in.
On top of this, IOT won’t just stay in your home, it’s also primed to follow the “user” wherever it goes. Customizations and preferences won’t go far if real-time processing can’t take place. Imagine you walk into a store to pick up an item you booked for earlier. The transactional presence of you in that store will not be optimized if the store cannot act on offering you newer products based on your past shopping history.
Real-time updates can only occur if the retailer is up to the task of ensuring that it has enough potential to process and generate queries that are deemed necessary to utilize the opportunities that we intend to explore with IOT.
Building Potential for IOT:
While small time retailers might have little resources to achieve the enterprise scale planning solutions that the bigger corporations have, but things can change if a bigger grid can be placed by those at the helm of SAP and offer it as a PAAS service, intended to work as proponents in a single, bigger system.
IOT depends a lot on SAP and enterprise planning, even more than the makers of such revolutionary devices envision. A smart home where you can order Alexa to darken your Smart Home blinds for the night and to have your fridge order dinner is what the future is all about.
The power of enterprise planning needs to be spread out so that it can benefit IOT and make it work like it’s supposed to, otherwise we will be left with only seeing those apparently smart machines which have the power to act smart, but can’t due to the blocks in place, further up the chain of functionality.