Imagine if a restaurant could monitor customers, staff and kitchen appliances in real time to know exactly when the next table for four will be ready or when a steak is perfectly medium-rare. This comprehensive data would not only reduce food waste and maximize sales, but also inform the restaurant’s entire supply chain right down to their food and beverage suppliers.
By sharing valuable data and minimizing performance guesswork, all the organizations involved would benefit.
This sort of ongoing, real-time communication is becoming increasingly possible because of the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of objects installed with software and sensors that enable them to collect and share data via the cloud. Usually associated with consumer products, where it is rapidly establishing a foothold, IoT is likely to have an even deeper impact for businesses.
“The most important principle of the Internet of Things for Samsung has to be that it’s not driven by technology, but by people’s expectations. It has to be an IoT for you. Only then can it naturally blend into other parts of our lives,” said Won-Pyo Hong, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung Electronics.
The New, Open Ecosystem
However, the ability to share data is a sticking point. “To succeed in the enterprise, the IoT needs platforms that are open and interoperable. Without such platforms, the IoT market will end up fragmented, with isolated islands built on closed systems,” said Hong.
Protecting proprietary data is an outdated and harmful practice because it limits development. Openly sharing data, on the other hand, allows businesses to identify trends and new opportunities. The sheer volume of data now available is useless if it can’t be analyzed, understood and used. And no single company has the expertise to accomplish this. But with an open, common platform, like SmartThings, developers and device makers alike can collaborate on technologies that benefit everyone, Hong explained.
In many cases, IoT innovations already being used in consumer products will be adapted for business. Consider this example involving the German car manufacturer BMW. In 2011 the company integrated third-party apps into the operating system (OS) of most of its cars. This year, BMW opened its platform to Samsung to connect their devices to the BMW OS. Soon, backseat passengers can use a Samsung tablet to control a host of car features, including the radio station and seat temperature.
Now that passenger vehicles have proven IoT tech is compatible with some of the functions of transportation, it’s possible to translate that success into meeting the unique needs of business. And BMW is showing the way by expanding connectivity. In 2014 the company launched ConnectedDrive, a web portal for vehicle owners to get new apps, services and updates anytime, anywhere. The promise of such a system for shipping and logistics is huge.
Transportation vehicles and those used by reps in the field could get addresses for delivery routes or sales visits sent to the onboard GPS though a compatible handheld device. This kind of open connectivity would make it possible to quickly adjust routes to avoid traffic delays, respond to urgent requests or even add stops in response to late requests. Other applications could help safeguard products with automatic heating or cooling adjustments depending on cargo and outdoor temperatures or better vehicle maintenance by automatically monitoring critical functions.
From One Industry to the Next
IoT technology is already being adopted in certain industries. Hospitals are using a patient monitoring system called EarlySense to track patient vital signs and motion (such as falling out of a bed) via sensors placed under their mattress. Now EarlySense is working to bring the same monitoring system to your home. Nurses and family members would be able to monitor elderly patients requiring home health care from anywhere.
This same kind of monitoring has the potential to transform other types of business. IoT-enabled devices can make it possible to track everything from the location and status of shipments to the progress of every step of a manufacturing process in real time. Sensors can also be embedded in inventory and order-fulfillment processes to help place and manage staff to keep pace with changing needs.
However, the enhanced digital connectivity also brings new security challenges for business. An increasing number of interconnected devices creates more potential openings for hackers to exploit. “Security is the main concern for our enterprise customers—not just on current mobile devices, but on all IoT devices in the future,”said Gregory Wade, Vice President of Samsung’s Enterprise Business Team. He added that built-in platforms, like Samsung Knox, are the key to ensuring necessary security.
But the benefits will far outweigh the risks. The requirement to share information is growing. This is particularly true in business.
“Despite the challenges, I think we can all agree that the IoT in the enterprise will be a major digital disruptor in the coming years,” Hong said. “And you can either embrace change and ride the wave, or risk falling behind the competition.”
In her new book, Unfinished Business, Anne-Marie Slaughter calls for a major mindset shift by business leaders and managers. Today, she...continue reading
Everyone agrees that Millennials are an overwhelmingly “plugged in” generation. 85% of Millennials own smartphones, and 80%...continue reading