The Internet of Things (IoT) and big data are two of the macro technology trends to have received the most media and enterprise attention over recent years. And understandably so – get them right and they can unlock genuine business transformation.
The two also go hand in hand. The IoT is all about creating a web of connectivity across a particular organisation or environment – and using that connectivity both to collect data, and to carry out particular functions centrally. In other words, IoT deployments generate a wealth of previously untapped information, and the ability to automate previously manual operations. However, in order to make sense of that information, and make that automation meaningful, said information needs to be analysed. Enter big data analytics.
Combine the IoT and big data analytics, and organisations across myriad different sectors can unlock new sources of business intelligence, streamline their operations, reduce costs and do more with less. Here are five b2b use cases which are already a reality:
Use case 1: The IIoT
The Industrial IoT, or IIoT, refers to applications of the IoT in industrial and manufacturing environments, where big data analytics are enabling everything from predictive maintenance of high-value equipment, through to smoother logistics in the warehouse. Creating an IoT infrastructure throughout the factory floor, warehouse and beyond enables such organisations to take a more proactive approach to myriad different operations, whether automating the picking of different components, or ensuring valuable equipment is repaired before a small flaw becomes a big problem.
Use case 2: Marketing and sales
By embedding connected sensors in products actually being deployed by customers, organisations across multiple sectors can quickly gather and aggregate huge volumes of data as to how those products are being used – and, in turn, apply that information to future sales and marketing strategies. For example, IoT analytics can enable the intelligent anticipation of customer requirements, needs and trends, by combining product usage information with reviews and other forecasting data. Information from multiple different sources – both within and outside the IoT – can be aggregated to perform analysis and predictions, which in turn shape new value-added services. And the right data from the right sources can also help with the planning outcome-based pricing and subscription models, which informs flexible pricing and billing. All of these techniques can make for better market positioning and greater market penetration.
Use case 3: Energy power management
All organisations have energy requirements, from the simple heating and lighting required through their buildings, to highly complex electricity requirements needed to run sophisticated equipment and deal with predictable – and unexpected – ebbs and flows in demand. The IoT and big data analytics can enable a centralised and proactive view of energy requirements over time, automating manual processes, enabling smart building management and even sharing with energy providers themselves to more efficiently use energy throughout multiple buildings.
Use case 4: Virtual assistants
The likes of Siri, Alexa and Google smart assistants have become consumer favourites in recent years, using voice recognition and AI to carry out a variety of commands. But they are also playing an increasingly interesting role in b2b contexts. Not only can they carry out functions such as sending meeting reminders, providing event instructions and sharing data with other applications, predictive analytics can be applies to their data to search for patterns and trends. In turn, this can help organisations to better understand their staff and their customers.
Use case 5: Healthcare
The potential applications of IoT and big data in the healthcare sector are enormous, with connected sensors able to gather a wealth of vital information direct from patients, and big data analytics enabling that information to inform everything form diagnostics, to prevention, to treatment. But this is not just a public-facing context – there are also b2b applications. For large organisations keen to and ensure the health of their workforces, healthcare IT offers myriad opportunities to monitor key health metrics and proactively alert to things like unsafe noise levels, air pollution, or staff working for too long without a break.
These are just five of the ways in which the IoT, in combination with big data analytics, is driving business transformation across a wide range of b2b contexts. Is your organisation on board?