Internet of Things (IoT) has been seen as one of the key dimensions of digital transformation for a while now. However, it is yet to scale up and become integral to business processes, particularly in the case of manufacturing oriented firms. The primary concern so far has been with issues related to security, apart from finding the right applications that would deliver meaningful value. However, in the last couple of years, businesses are looking at making sense of the enormous chunks of data emanating from IoT and moving towards the broader contours of ‘Internet of Everything’.
Lately, there has been a momentum with IoT due to the possibilities of AI and algorithms in making timely recommendations leading to positive customer experiences. Hence there has been a concerted effort to develop the right applications around devices such as sensors, robots, embedded systems. It is expected that the focus of IoT would be on recognising new values from the data and organisations will lean in on the already available digital infrastructure.
Instead of relying completely on cloud computing which brings in its wake the need for increased bandwidth, at times unstable performance of remote servers and increased security concerns with the data belonging to the business or its customers, it is now anticipated that edge computing could play an important role in furthering the case for IoT. In edge computing, since data transmission is to the fringe of the network for most transactions, this would result in faster data processing and tighter control on data security with reduced need for cloud computing.
We are beginning to experience the impact of IoT applications in the context of large projects such as smart cities for conservation of energy or efficient routing of traffic, predictive and prescriptive solutions for preventing breakdowns and recommend proactive actions in large mission-critical projects or estimating loads in transportation and planning for better routing and effective logistics management. For large-scale adoption and making IoT mainstream, there is a need for business managers, IT managers and data scientists to collaborate and identify IoT applications that would lead to performance enhancement of repetitive processes based on dependable data and enabling scalability leading to significant monetary benefit to the organisation.
The possibilities of reducing dependence on humans for assembly line production on the one hand and creating innovative offerings and customer delight on the basis of insights derived from the connected devices on the other, could become the game changer for the manufacturing industry. Industry 4.0 is opening up these new possibilities with robotic process automation, 3D printing, analytics and others.
Whether it is the developed countries which had outsourced manufacturing to China and other such countries on account of high labour costs and are now considering bringing back some of the manufacturing activities or it is those countries who could not manage economies of scale and hence had to depend upon imports for their needs or countries like India who have the potential to design and implement cutting edge digital solutions in manufacturing, every one of them could go on to creating a niche for themselves and become a winner.
In the ultimate analysis, winners will be those who have access to deep insights on the buying behaviour, have the right talent mix to function in the dynamic environment, are able to customise the solutions to service each of their segments and are able to combine innovation with speed on a continuous basis.
The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company