Executive Brief: 5 Questions You Need Answered to Assure IoT Service Delivery
In today’s highly competitive and cost-conscious environment, more and more is expected from those in charge. In fact, as you move up the management chain, and things go wrong, or the data you’ve got isn’t providing the insights you need, the answer “it wasn’t me” or “I don’t know” becomes less and less acceptable.
Instead, as a leader, you must ask yourself: “Am I delivering products on time? With quality? Do they meet industry and customer expectation? And am I delivering consistent results for the organization?”
CEOs and top management are focused on five main areas: revenue, cost, risk mitigation, reaction time to immediate market demands and forecasting future needs. Executives also care about remaining competitive and relevant in a market where technology disruption from smaller start-up companies seems to happen on a daily basis. As a leader in this competitive environment, you’ll often be required to reshape the business to be pioneering and innovative, while also creating new revenue opportunities.
The Internet of Things (IoT) presents a promising opportunity for enterprises and service providers to address these pressures. Collecting and analyzing IoT data – in context – can provide insight that aids in both top-and bottom-line decision making. It can also help predict and re-shape your business.
By recognizing that infinite amounts of data are not stored solely on the devices and sensors themselves, teams and leaders can start asking better questions of the business.
But assuring IoT service delivery and harvesting its contextual data requires a shift in mindset. How you monitor infrastructure now is not how you will monitor IoT infrastructure in the future. You need visibility from the sensor to the application.
Just imagine the kinds of questions you can answer with this myriad of granular, trended and contextualized IoT data at your fingertips:
- How is the service itself performing? Do I have confidence in my sensors, the transport and the application? Let’s say you’re monitoring municipal water flow. You need to spot and mitigate problems before they happen. What if a sensor wasn’t reporting on the water flow in a pipe consistently and comparing it to a baseline historical norm? If that sensor isn’t responding, you may be at risk of not detecting it, which could lead to costly damage in the form of a water leak or burst.
- How is the service growing? By region, by market, by business segment? If you’re the CEO of an IoT-enabled ride sharing service, it’s important to know how business in one region or segment compares to another. For instance, why has the application seen rapid adoption in Austin, but not in Dallas? And why is London outpacing any U.S. city by five times the usage rate? With answers to these questions, you can better plan business goals and objectives, while restructuring needs and resources.
- Can the underlying infrastructure handle the projected growth, or do I need more capacity? If you’re tasked with transitioning Tokyo into a smart city, you need data that shows historical growth, trends and patterns. This will help identify if and where you need to add capacity. If your street lamps have been upgraded to automatically dim based on pedestrian usage, residents won’t be happy if the lights never turn on. You must make sure you have enough capacity to handle all the sensors needed to keep the lights on at the right time.
- How do I manage usage-based billing in the IoT? In the usage-based model, customers aren’t locked into a contract and don’t have to pay for products or services they don’t use. Customers appreciate having access to this type of billing. If you have detailed data to assure your application service delivery, you’ll be able to manage it accurately and keep customers happy and coming back for more.
- How do I understand patterns of service that I can use to optimize my infrastructure for performance or cost? If you’re a leader in agriculture, you can optimize your infrastructure by connecting sensors with a weather application. Clearly, your irrigation system doesn’t have to work the same way in Las Vegas as it does in Seattle. By tying sensors to a weather application, you can water crops only when rain isn’t expected within two hours, 10 hours, or whatever time frame you choose. By harnessing the power of Mother Nature, your business will reap a significant cost savings.
How IoT Monitoring Assures Application Service Delivery
There are many ways IoT monitoring can help assure service delivery. Consider businesses that operate with a fleet of vehicles. These companies are beginning to realize the positive impact IoT devices can have on their bottom line. With Wi-Fi in fleet vehicles, drivers and managers can now share real-time vehicle diagnostics, routing information, GPS tracking and more.
“All this information, coupled with its speed and accessibility, allows for greater efficiency for your business -- including making more informed dispatching decisions, monitoring fuel economy, improving vehicle maintenance and much more,” writes Geeng Yee Chong in his NetworkFleet.com blog, “Unraveling the Web of the Internet of Things.”
Private enterprises aren’t the only organizations that stand to gain business value from the IoT. Government organizations across the globe at all levels are wrestling with how to meet increased citizen expectations in the face of reduced budgets.
In a recent whitepaper “Internet of Everything: a $4.6 Trillion Public-Sector Opportunity,” Cisco predicts that the IoT will generate $4.6 trillion in Value at Stake for the public sector, which results from its ability to help organizations manage assets, optimize performance and create new business models.
“Large organizations, government departments and cities can benefit directly from the same new technologies that are transforming supply-chain management and logistics in the private sector,” Cisco writes. “Similarly, they can build on the potential of mobile technology to develop ‘smart working’ for their employees, resulting in significant cost savings. ‘Smart building’ strategies can also reduce costs, while generating a positive environmental impact.”
Public water flow can also be automated and optimized by the IoT. Govtech.com addresses three ways IoT sensors and devices can aid in the water crisis: improving yield, lowering demand and automating use.
“One of the challenges the IoT could solve is determining exactly where to repair to improve yield – and figuring out whether the capital cost of repair will be offset by the volume saved for that area. Sensors can provide a more precise understanding of water flows and help prioritize improvements,” writes co-authors Max Meyers, Claire Niech and William D. Eggers.
The authors pointed to an example from the Municipal Water Department in Northern California’s East Bay, which partnered with WaterSmart to save five percent in water consumption. Customers were given access to a web portal that showed how their water usage compared to families of a similar size. The portal also provided tips for improving water conservation.
Clearly, municipal water departments and agribusiness companies can achieve significant savings by automating the water supply and using sensors to aggregate soil moisture, heat, humidity and other metrics to analyze how much water plants and crops need.
The authors also pointed to a second case. Hydropoint is a company that worked with landscape companies to install these systems in urban parks, golf courses and corporate campuses. “Hydropoint’s system cut the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita’s irrigation costs by more than 25 percent and is projected to save the city approximately 180 million gallons of water annually,” the authors wrote. “By creating greater insight into both supply and demand, the IoT can help government and utilities work together to improve governance of the water ecosystem.”
Starting on your journey requires a smart data framework that can collect any time series data, from any source and type, and scales intuitively with your IoT infrastructure growth. For more information, read our related Executive Brief on How a Smart Data Framework Can Better Shape Your IoT Business.