Industry analysts agree that about 70% of the market value of the Internet of Things (IoT) will come from B2B applications. We are talking of a global wealth up to 8 trillion dollars by 2025, generating its highest impact in manufacturing, cities and health. In these domains, IoT applications are already transforming operations and processes, attracting investments, driving innovation and new business models.
In a factory, the IoT can enable smarter asset management and predictive maintenance, improving control over production and preventing equipment failures, thus saving time and money. A city can leverage the IoT to monitor its streetlight network, reducing power consumption and energy waste, or streamline urban mobility by better managing traffic flows and parking facilities. Hospitals can improve patients’ home assistance thanks to IoT-based health monitoring solutions. These quick examples remind us that the IoT has a variety of possible applications, and there isn’t a single ‘magic’ recipe to fit all business needs at once.
This is a first lesson to learn: the success of any IoT investment is inextricably linked to an accurate assessment of business goals to be achieved in the short, medium, and long run. Only if the company has a clear view of the objectives to be reached, it will be able to define the best possible IoT strategy and select the right technologies to be implemented.
We should also consider that IoT solutions allow to collect and store a vast amount of data generated by industrial and urban assets, but the real challenge is to analyze and correlate this information, turning it into actionable insights and knowledge. Once the company is aware of possible vulnerabilities in a given workflow, it should rapidly prepare and implement a corrective plan. Once city managers detect a recurrent disruption in waste collection services in a certain district, concrete intervention should be established.
That’s the second lesson we have: the IoT does not bring value to the organization, unless it is the starting point of data-driven action plans. Successful businesses have already learnt how to transform IoT data into performing strategies and programs.
And there we come to another important lesson, maybe the most relevant one. Having a clear business goal into scope, turning information into action requires leadership: the IoT revolution needs to be steered by a strong, motivated team, and clearly endorsed by the boardroom. As the IoT will deeply impact assets, processes, and the way staff work, it is fundamental to have the commitment of business people and clarify their stake in the changes being made. The possibility for any IoT investment to generate a valuable ROI is thus a matter of putting the right actors around the table, and the right leaders to chair it.