Many companies are still grappling with the complexities of implementing IoT into their businesses. There are costs, for sure, in terms of financial, personnel and operational impacts and for many companies it could be quite overwhelming, leaving them wondering, is it worth it? As with any change to business operations, there are benefits and possible disadvantages and each must be considered carefully before implementing.
The benefits of IoT
Most people think about benefits of IoT in terms of improvements in productivity, efficiency, decision-making, data collection and analysis, and even worker safety. A recent study by Gartner (IoT Survey, September 2017) found that nearly half of all survey respondents (41%) feel that the most significant benefit of IoT initiatives is workforce productivity enhancement. The next biggest benefits mentioned were remote monitoring and control of operations and process improvement (see chart for more responses). These are all tangible benefits that, for many companies, can have a significant impact on internal processes. (Of note, only .1% of respondents feel that IoT activities have no benefits).
IoT integration can have many external benefits as well. According to the same Gartner study, 39% of respondents feel that the biggest benefit is that customer care is more tightly integrated with product performance and customer usage. Next mentioned was a gain in competitive advantage (24% of respondents), improved customer experience/loyalty (23%) and the ability to remotely monitor faults and improve products and services. It could also help companies find new ways to personalize products and services (22%), gain greater insight into customer behavior (22%) and satisfy regulatory requirements (19%). Even a company’s reputation and intellectual property can be affected by IoT.
In effect, IoT integration can provide innumerable benefits to companies internally and externally.
Risks and disadvantages of implementing IoT
One of the biggest risks with IoT integration is the vulnerability to cyberattack or having proprietary, private and customer information compromised. By far, this is the biggest concern for most companies and it should be one of the highest priorities for companies as they plan their IoT implementation strategy. Gartner predicts that over 20 billion objects will be connected by 2020 – an astounding risk if companies implement IoT without putting the proper cybersecurity protocols in place. Safeguarding data is non-negotiable.
Such a big undertaking will no doubt have an impact on a company’s cash flow as well, and a full implementation could be cost prohibitive for some companies, who might be better to consider the top 2 or 3 things that can be implemented right away and then phase in the remainder over time in order to distribute the costs over time as well. Some companies might even delay implementation until all the necessary funds are available for implementation however, this could also be a disadvantage if it takes too long, and companies lose customers or market share in the meantime, while their competitors proceed at a faster pace.
Some other considerations include outdated or inadequate infrastructures to support the new technologies or a general lack of knowledge regarding what all those technologies are, and whether they are appropriate for the particular nuances faced by each business.
The good news is that with proper planning and pre-emptive trouble-shooting, these risks and disadvantages can be abated or diminished.
IoT integration in practice
Many companies have already successfully integration IoT into their day-to-day operations and are experiencing marginal to significant gains in productivity and more.
In Bonfiglioli, a number of IoT initiatives are currently underway or have already concluded. Bonfiglioli is working diligently to deploy IoT, in order to give added benefits to customers, and is already experiencing benefits. Some initiatives to date include:
- Construction of a ‘smart factory’ in Italy
- Integration of IoT technologies at the Bonfiglioli factory in Slovakia
- The addition of sensors into Bonfiglioli products that can monitor machine performance remotely and predict maintenance (Bonfiglioli Condition Monitoring System, or CMS, and Integrated Load Cell)
What types of things is YOUR organization doing? How are you managing the implementation of IoT? We invite you to share your comments below.
Thanks for reading.