Opponents and proponents of the Internet of Things differ vigorously as to whether its ultimate impact will be positive or negative. Both sides wholeheartedly agree on one thing, though: That the world will be enormously changed by the IoT phenomenon.

Our population centers will be well served. Abilities derived through IoT to connect and integrate systems will improve our energy use, reduce air pollution, crime and improve traffic flow. All of these materially benefit society and contribute to better policy decisions.

Similarly, businesses that leverage their collected data have a trove of raw materials that can redefine their business, and in doing so redefine their relationship with their customers

Gaining Competitive Advantage through IoT

Sensors embedded in a manufactured product such as a water heater or an engine, or sensors inserted into the topsoil of an organic farm or water pipes in a hospital are data points. All those sensory data points stream data real-time to a centralized database, most likely in the cloud. Tens, hundreds or thousands of data points are collected, sorted and collated into a consumable format. All of this is performed by machine-to-machine interaction, none of which requires any human involvement.

It is at this point the data undergoes specialized analysis, revealing interesting, valuable insights. Leveraging that data relies on a number of factors such as customer relationships, business model, operational flexibility and imagination. These are the circumstances under which human interaction with the data comes into play as value judgments are made, the benefit of experience reveals itself and thereby starts to leverage IoT.

Perhaps the data can be sold to another interested party to form their own conclusions or design their own new products. Different people will see available data in different ways and uncover creative new ways to see through their own lens of specialization and knowledge.

Manufacturers can offer preventive maintenance or monitoring services that they previously couldn’t, and thereby create entirely new product categories. Value-add products and services enable differentiation from competitors by allowing end users to benefit from new features at reduced cost or even for free. Industrial equipment, electronic products or connected appliances gain greater insight into how products are used and when components degrade in certain circumstances suggesting improved use of materials or manufacturing processes to prevent product downtime, which enables the ability to charge higher prices, or deliver improved performance over competitive products and thereby gain competitive advantage.

Manufacturers selling through a distributor can establish a direct relationship with the end-user customer, or use data to redefine the relationship with a distributor. Insurers and their agents can build new models and write creative policies based on a better understanding of risk and circumstances.

Some argue that industrial IoT will eliminate jobs through robotics, and that is certainly true. However, it is far more likely that more new jobs will be created as new businesses are started, companies expand, or as people create their own consultancy through data extrapolation using their own expertise or passion. Expansion of a company’s business through analysis of collected data may not create jobs itself, but perhaps the engineering company they partner with sees growth installing equipment and needs to hire new people to physically perform work at geographically distributed locations.

Like the applications enabled through the Internet of Things, the accrued benefits to our society are ultimately only limited by our imaginations. Caravela helps its customers to achieve or to simply understand their goals and helps with ideas how to leverage the IoT data trove. With a focus on engineering secure delivery of streaming data all the way through to objective-focused analytics, Caravela delivers intelligent solutions to help leverage IoT for competitive advantage.