AppMinute

The Internet of Things and Business: a Primer

August 10, 2015

  • John Hennessy

The Internet of Things isn’t just about things, it’s about systems. All technology produces data. Align that data, and you have a system that allows you to make intelligent decisions for your business. In the past, we’ve studied some examples of the internet of systems, and learned what’s possible for organizations in the near future. But how can you start the conversation about IoT in your organization?

Talk to most executives about the and you often have to begin by explaining that ‘IoT’ stands for the ‘Internet of Things.’ But that doesn’t clear up much. You then have to explain what this ‘Internet of Things’ is and what it can mean to their business.

Yes IoT is big. Yes IoT is growing fast. Yet somehow IoT is still off the radar of most decision makers, and it shouldn’t be.

If you’re running any business, you should know what IoT is and what IoT can do for your business. If you’re in the business of IoT, you should be actively educating everyone to build awareness of the value it can deliver.

The following is not a comprehensive overview. It’s the Dick and Jane of IoT. But it will make you one of the people in your organization who can talk about it with confidence. It may also help sellers of IoT solutions understand how little the world at large knows of the internet of things. My goal is to help both buyers and sellers because IoT is not a fad. IoT done right improves business performance.

Definition of IoT

A comprehensive IoT definition from a 2009 presentation by Dr. Kristian Kuhn of SAP AG:

“A world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, and where the physical objects can become active participants in the business process.

Services are available to interact with these ‘smart objects’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.”

I don’t have a “Dr.” in front of my name, so I offer a definition that’s a bit less academic:

Better business decisions through more frequent, timely, and accurate data provided by sensors and processors that continuously detect and report change from anywhere to anywhere.

I like to lead any discussion of IoT with the fact that IoT is all about business benefit. Why else should we care? Then there’s the frequent, timely, and accurate data part. Data quality and availability challenges face organizations every day. Then there’s the connectivity part. If the latest data can’t reach you where you are, it’s not helpful. Connectivity also contributes to immediate action.

That’s IoT. Business benefit plus how.

Breaking it down.

Lots of data captured by businesses today is manual, slow, and fraught with error: poor or incomplete initial entry, poor re-entry, infrequent entries, and long breaks between updates.

Bad source data makes it difficult to make well-informed business decisions.

Replacing human detection with electronic detection gives you more accurate data more frequently.

Connect that electronic device to a communication network, and you get data when and where you need it.

That’s the essence of IoT. What someone used to call in and report every few hours, or fax to you, or send as an email is now a steady stream of constantly updating data that you can view from anywhere.

IoT Examples

Nothing teaches like experience, so here are a few applications of IoT.

Med Tech IoT Example – Saving Lives

Imagine you’re the parent of a child prone to seizures. Each and every night you need to be vigilant. You literally lose sleep to make sure your child is safe.

Enter IoT with a wearable device that combines motion detection, GPS location, and wireless communication to detect various types of repetitive shaking motions and get immediate attention for seizures. The IoT device is simply more vigilant than you could ever be and thus more effective.

This application of IoT helps save lives, including children’s lives.

Learn more at the Danny Did Foundation website.

How this applies to you: Where in your organization does the reliable operation of critical devices keep you up at night? Put a sensor on it, connect it, set alerts, and sleep better.

Food Safety

With all the focus on food safety, you’d think shipments of perishable foods on the road would be constantly monitored for temperature and tampering. Unfortunately, the typical practice is periodic calls from drivers or temperature reports and inspections at the end of the trip.

Thus the safety and quality of an $80,000 shipment of perishable product depends on cell phone calls from a driver, a driver the shipper has probably never met before.

Enter IoT. Equip a shipment of perishable products with wireless temperature sensors inside the trailer, wireless door sensors on the door to detect tampering, and GPS location. Connect it all to a wireless network and you have the ability to ensure fresh, safe and on time delivery through continuous reports on temp, location, and door security.

Visit Locus Traxx to learn more.

How this applies to you: Out of sight doesn’t have to be out of mind any longer. UPS and FedEx track packages throughout their journey. Locus Traxx monitors and reports on perishable shipments on the road and even at sea. Inexpensive communications, radios and sensors, and gateways and tags make remote monitoring of valuable assets a best practice, not just one option.

Summary

This is just an IoT primer. We’ve not covered:

– Applications of IoT data,
Contextual IoT,
– Alerts and alert logic,
– Rule-based automation,
– Two-way IoT,
– Mobility,
– Time series databases,
– Reporting dashboards,
IoT data platforms,
– Edge computing,

 …or many other critical areas of the IoT ecosystem. But the goal was a starting point to get the unaware interested in the benefits of IoT and give those who live and breathe IoT a perspective on the knowledge gap they need to close.

What are some great enterprise IoT cases that impress you?


More on IoT