Beyond the hype: Getting value from the IoT

The Asia Pacific region is at the forefront of Internet of Things adoption worldwide, says AT&T's Sandy Verma

The Asia Pacific region is at the forefront of Internet of Things (IoT) adoption worldwide.

Enterprises increasingly view IoT as a strategic asset, with both corporate IT leaders and business unit heads looking for ways to use connected technologies to gain value from data. We’re seeing interest in both consumer and industrial space – from connecting cars and homes to deploying IoT in different industries, including energy and utilities, transportation, logistics / supply chain, automotive, healthcare, Industrial assets and more.

While IoT deployments encompass a mix of connected devices, networks, platforms and applications, it is not the technology that poses the greatest implementation challenges. In my experience, four factors underpin every successful IoT strategy.

  • A well-defined and measurable objective
    Prior to beginning any IoT project, it is vital to consider whether your business model will need to change and how you will measure your Return On Investment (ROI). Many early adopters in Asia Pacific are already using IoT to achieve significant cost savings. We are seeing organisations using IoT networks to enhance the productivity of workers in healthcare and other service industries, to save fuel by improving fleet scheduling and vehicle and driver performance, and to track and manage inventory in warehouses and in transit. While impressive cost savings can accrue from very small efficiency gains, Customers should not ignore the potential to generate new revenue through IoT as well.

    Clarity around ROI, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and any necessary process changes has an important benefit: it will help you build the business case for IoT. Leadership teams and shareholders want to know exactly how IoT will help them accelerate innovation, create new revenue streams and contribute to greater efficiency and flexibility for the business all within a specific, measurable, time-bound and realistic way.
  • A global view
    Globalisation is shrinking the world and increasing competition. IoT technologies can help you improve productivity and deliver better services, but this global playing field presents a unique challenge. For example Asia Pacific is not only unique geographically but also from a socio-economic perspective. Some corporations already need to operate and manage tens of thousands of connected devices worldwide – tracking shipping containers to hundreds of locations worldwide, for example. Other companies have to anticipate future needs, as a manufacturer might when launching a product that could end up anywhere in the world. It is better to ensure global coverage from the outset than to tackle this issue at a later stage.
  • A strong ecosystem
    IoT solutions are frequently multi-dimensional requiring expertise in many disciplines, including hardware, software, integration, cloud, security, networking and analytics. There is a great deal of experience and innovation in the market and costs continue to decrease, enhancing business confidence in IoT.

Finally, stay the course

To turn IoT projects into successes, a systematic approach is necessary. At AT&T, we use our IoT Foundry (an IoT Innovation Center) to conceptualise IoT solutions. Through that process we have developed a four layer portfolio strategy – Devices, Connectivity, Platform, and Application Solutions:

  • Devices: Strong Device certification program with 2100+ AT&T certified devices to date
  • Connectivity: The foundational layer of Global connectivity (short-range, long-range, Satellite, 2G, 3G and 4G) supported by a Global SIM card to relay data wherever needed.
  • Platform: Scalable Platform with Real-Time Provisioning, Usage based information and a Diagnostics Wizard to measure attainment of your objectives. Platform includes authorisation and access controls, granular control of data access and sharing, and securing data flows with cloud based platforms.
  • Application Solutions: Cloud-based data storage platform to collect, analyse, and share time-series data from connected devices (M2X), visual development tool (Flow designer). Developed and customisable for different verticals or horizontals such as telemedicine, intermodal container monitoring, buildings, connected cars, etc.

Overlaying all four elements are security processes which are flexible and can evolve to meet the threat protection needs of devices, assets and applications i.e., the complete IoT Solution. IoT projects can be perceived as challenging for both IT and business unit teams. However, by keeping your time-bound business objectives in mind throughout the process, and by having at least one senior leader as IoT project champion, your deployment will deliver the desired true business value and ROI – be it optimising operations, driving a new revenue stream or reducing costs. Irrespective of the adoption course and timelines, the excitement remains: IoT is changing the way people work, live and play and how companies do business. IoT stands poised to become the next chapter in the growth of modern technology.

Sandy Verma is Senior Director, AT&T Asia Pacific for Internet of Things Strategy

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