By 2020, 21 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be in use, up from the 6.4 billion estimated to deployed worldwide this year, according to Gartner Inc. The analyst firm expects enterprises will spend the most on IoT versus other technologies, connecting such things as HVAC, building management systems, lights, and devices to support transport logistics as well as networks to send and receive data.
In part one of this story, we explored how companies successfully begin their IoT journeys - typically by starting small, proving the concept on one piece of key equipment, for example. Still, some companies remain intimidated about deploying and managing IoT technologies, while others embrace it and achieve high operational efficiencies.
Some of those companies understand its benefits to manufacturing and supply chain, but are unclear how it can help them. Still others are connected, but not yet taking full advantage of IoT.
Where there are assets, IoT provides visibility, predictability
"Most of the companies that have a lot of equipment, a lot of devices, are very good candidates to connect those devices and equipment to a centralized system like cloud so they can send the data to people across the world on their mobile devices or laptops," says Anubhav Dwivedi, CEO, founder, Microsoft Azure partner Saviant Consulting.
Internet of Things technologies are best suited for asset-intensive companies, which includes manufacturing and distribution companies, plus rental equipment companies, oil and gas companies, even healthcare (consider crash carts in a hospital)-all organizations that want to know how their assets and equipment in the field are performing in real time, or simply where those assets are.
At a high level, IoT is all about tracking something in real time, which is just part of collecting real-time data. But IoT is also about intelligence into the operations, Dwivedi says.
"That means that the moment you start collecting real-time data, you should also be able to make sense of that data and put it back into the operations," he says. "For example, if you know that your equipment is working correctly now, can you predict if your equipment will be working correctly next quarter. If your system can tell you when your equipment and devices really need service, that will reduce the cost of your operations."
Eric Veldkamp, executive director of sales and marketing at Dynamics Software says that a variety of companies, including manufacturers, can benefit from the IoT.
Companies that have outfitted their equipment with sensors can generate data, analyze the data connected to their back-office ERP systems and then use that information to make better business decisions.
"The same is true for professional services companies, food services companies, for instance, who can do the same maybe [for] equipment-based support as well as any type of production companies whether it be discreet manufacturing, or process manufacturing," Veldkamp says.