Thursday, 14 May 2020

THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET OF THINGS

It is 2020 and the term, the Internet of Things (IoT), is becoming more widely-known amongst business heads and the more tech-curious. Beyond the basic definition of what IoT is, do business owners and organisational chiefs pause to consider the impact and potential of IoT on business?

As we’ll see, the impact of the IoT is wide, deep and it will create ripples long after its entrenched role in business.


Business Concerns and Challenges

Understandably, business owners and their teams have concerns related to IoT, which we’ll explore, but there are also wider concerns that may remain unsolved in the absence of this problem-solving technology that is IoT.

Some of the more common operational concerns among business owners and employees include whether IoT will replace jobs, if it means business operations become more complex or difficult or even if the implementation of IoT will mean operational disruption.
 


Similarly, there are wider concerns among business sectors, from shipping and transport to agriculture, that range from whether businesses can increase output while maintaining costs, achieving a new level of efficiency in operations while still retaining the existing workforce or even how a business stays relevant with the current generation of consumers. 

Furthermore, a business head may wonder if operations can be better monitored or things done faster with better control, and if IoT can do this for business.

We’ll explore the solutions that come with IoT, but first, we need to understand what IoT is.


What is IoT?

IoT is a deeply analytical and perceptive technology that, at its simplest, is a system or a collection of systems over which computing devices and digital and mechanical machines are connected, transmitting, receiving and sharing data over said networks, without the need for, or minimising the amount of, human intervention, specifically, human-to-human interaction or human-to-computer interaction.

It can be found on the factory floor, in the retail space and in commercial aviation -- such is its versatility and ability to transform businesses.

IoT became a reality thanks to the convergence of multiple, innovative technologies including wireless connectivity, cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, real-time analytics and wireless sensor technology, among others.
 



What Can IoT Do For Business?

The solutions that IoT technologies bring to businesses are numerous and diverse, the core benefit being greater efficiency through increased connectivity, more seamless operations, automation, data generation and analysis, among other solutions. 

IoT helps workers work better as business processes behave more efficiently, providing connectivity across diverse and disparate business operational divisions. Furthermore, IoT technologies can be utilised to detect problems, from which situations data can be collected, thus, helping to prevent certain problems based on data analysis. 

Just as importantly, based on the data generated by IoT-enabled machines, devices, processes and programmes, data that is later analysed meaningfully, this technology can help business leaders form better decisions 

Some examples of IoT in action include a logistics company monitoring its corporate fleet of vehicles, recording data on time lost in seasonal traffic or which routes are the most profitable; IoT-enabled factories managing output better, control risk and manage problems and smart buildings, smart grids and smart cities fitted with IoT technologies controlling lighting, electricity, security, heat or temperature change detection to better predict and effect next steps based on data available. 

There are successful case studies of IoT being successfully implemented into daily business operations, according to the World Economic Forum, where in 2018, it stated that some 200 case studies from both the private and public sectors had managed to successfully utilise IoT technologies into concrete, workable solutions.

The question of whether IoT will replace jobs depends on the nature of business or the sector in which the business operates. As in customer service, banking, healthcare, services, education, transport and many other sectors, humans form a crucial, core part of these sectors, because consumers are a diverse group with diverse needs.


IoT at Work in The Agriculture and Food Sectors

We need to first understand the global concerns over global population growth, climate change, resource and energy scarcity and food security.
 


The agricultural sector needs to ramp up the supply of food by as much as 70% by 2050, according to the IoT Solutions World Congress, because of a depletion of natural resources, including the amount of agricultural land and an increase in the rate at which the global population is growing.

If agriculture remained in manual mode, as consumers, we might face shortages, rising prices caused by sudden or seasonal fluctuations -- for instance, a shortage of supply (think about sudden floods ruining farms where vegetables are grown, and the price hike of vegetables for households) -- or worse, a decreasing supply of food caused by environmental changes, geo-political crises, or growing costs borne by the farmers who are unable to cope with demand-fulfillment.


How The Sector Benefits from IoT

In this respect, IoT solutions can be utilised to close that gap between cross-border demand from consumers and cross-border supply from farmers. Farmers in Indonesia who produce tempe, for instance, can have their product reach delicatessens in New York.

IoT can help give rise to what is called smart farming, where the anticipated outcomes are increased productivity (leading to greater agricultural yields), a reduction in waste, increased agricultural production in a cost-effective way and better management of necessary materials such as water and electricity through connected devices. 
 


Other key benefits from IoT technology revolve primarily around remote monitoring, automation, regulated control of resources. For example, automation of the irrigation system so as to better control irrigation start times or duration, positive regulation of the amount of raw materials, such as fertiliser or animal feed, used, by using sensors and connected devices, using drones to monitor crop or soil health and monitoring farm operations remotely, and finally, using the data to perform analysis for future decisions.

All these instances translate to a better use of resources, and less wastage.

A smooth, efficient agriculture sector that is benefitting from the integration of IoT solutions in its operations, means consumers stand to benefit from consistent supply and a consistent quality of produce regulated by data analytics and innovative technologies.

An investment in IoT-related technologies can benefit the agriculture sector, not just for the business owners, but for the whole ecosystem.


Benefits Farther Downstream

IoT technologies can benefit related sectors downstream, too, such as food processors, food distributors and food retailers. What this means for the consumer and the growing population is a more efficient and data-driven sector that could potentially have long-term benefits on a more efficient use of natural resources and a more-regulated food industry.

If your business is ready to take that step from manual, analogue operations into smart IoT-based solutions to stay relevant and profitable in this decade and beyond, talk to Celcom as a trusted partner for your next step in the journey towards smart business solutions.