Although the expression ‘the Internet of Things’ (IoT) may not yet be universally familiar or understood, its effect - how it will change the way we live and work is becoming increasingly apparent. As a technology company, the IoT and how it will affect our customers, is definitely on our solutions radar.
First documented in 1999 by Kevin Ashton - a British technologist, the IoT means that anything embedded with a sensor can be hooked up to the internet –going far beyond the familiar PCs and mobile devices. Users with the necessary applications and security in place can then access the particular resource and instruct it accordingly. In essence, from programming our domestic heating and lighting, to traffic light management and machine diagnostics, the opportunities are considerable.
The advent of powerful mobile devices, cheap chipsets and sensors has made the IoT a completely viable and practical proposition. Its arrival almost certainly means that we have only just scratched the surface of what the internet can do. Online activity is going to go through the roof and beyond. Gartner Research suggests that by 2020, 30 billion devices will be connected to the internet. And in 10 short years’ from now our ‘online life’ could be very different indeed.
Despite the headline appeal of remotely programmable lights, fridges and ovens, the techno-pundits believe that industry – field service, manufacturing and distribution organisations will be the first to harness the IoT – at least to begin with.
Take the field service industry for example:
A piece of ‘internet-ready’ equipment will be hooked up, maybe via a cloud platform. If a fault occurs, an alert and diagnosis will be generated to the service provider’s system, without the customer being aware that there’s a problem. A repair order for an engineer to be despatched will be triggered, together with the required parts defined, requisitioned and made ready. All set for a first time fix. Alternatively, the repair might even be resolved remotely by adjusting a few settings.
In another scenario, the equipment may only require a service according to the work-cycles or volumes processed. Likewise sensors will generate a performance report confirming the situation and the necessary work will be scheduled. If it’s just consumables that need replacing, then the machine will do its own ‘home shopping’ automatically and without fuss.
Whatever’s going on, the service provider will have complete performance visibility of all equipment on contract. And, with the quality of available data, it will be possible to develop very accurate pricing models for equipment provision, repair contracts and end of life replacement. The IoT will be contributing to a much better customer service proposition, improved all-round efficiencies for supplier and customers alike. The power at the user’s fingertips will have entered a new phase.
The capabilities and functionality to support new IoT technologies are firmly on our development road-map. We will be sure to keep you informed of new developments…..