Internet of Things (IoT) big data is the next frontier of analytics, but most companies are still in the early stages of adoption. However, companies can jumpstart their IoT strategies by looking at business use cases that are already working. Here are 10 instances of IoT applications that are getting results for companies and that have an established best practice history.
1: Web data for marketing
Companies can choose to employ their own analytics tracking for on-web behavior of their customers or they can outsource the task to marketing firms that are established in this space. On-website navigation patterns, where visitors are coming from or going to from your website, what types of devices your visitors are using, and other relevant data on visitors can be aggregated for a more complete picture. This combination of transactional and IoT data will enrich your marketing analyses and forecasts and can be implemented rapidly.
2: Identification of dangerous websites
Commercial firms offer security services that enable network administrators to track machine to machine exchanges and internet website visits from corporate computers and to uncover "dangerous" websites and the IP addresses of the corporate computers that are regularly visiting them. The practice cuts down the risk of a network compromise from a malware or virus introduction. Because this "watch" service is available from cloud-based vendors, implementation is straightforward and enterprises can get started right away.
3: Facility monitoring
Even something as simple as monitoring and/or adjusting the temperature of building thermostats can be done remotely as part of an energy conservation and facility maintenance procedure. The beauty of this IoT application is that it is easy to implement and easy to establish a baseline of performance and to obtain desired improvements.
4: Machine and infrastructure maintenance
Sensors can be placed on machines and on infrastructure materials such as railroad tracks to monitor the health of these components and to sent out alerts whenever a component begins to fail. Several city transit authorities have already adopted this IoT technology and have been able to proactively perform maintenance before failures occurred.
5: Logistics and tracking
The transportation industry now attaches sensors to moving trucks and to individual components that are being shipped. These items are then tracked from start to finish by a central system. The practice has eliminated theft of goods in remote areas and has enabled corporate supply chains to stay on track because management has full visibility of where vehicles are (and where they should be) at any given point in time.
6: Container environmentals
Also in the logistics and transportation industry, shipment containers bearing perishable goods can be environmentally monitored and controlled, with sensors issuing alerts if temperature or humidity ranges are exceeded. In addition, sensors issue alerts when containers are tampered with or when their seals are broken. This information is forwarded in real time over a centralized system to decision makers so situations can be remedied—even if they are halfway around the world.
7: Inventory management by machine
Self-service vending machines and portable stores that provide a variety of items to consumers now issue automatic inventory restocking alerts when specific items fall below their reorder levels. The practice saves retailers money because they only have to send out field personnel to restock when the machines tell them that they need restocking.
8: Driverless trucks
In remote areas of the world with dangerous weather conditions and nonexistent road infrastructure, companies in industries like oil and gas exploration are using driverless trucks that can be remote- controlled and communicated with. This cuts operating expenses because you don't have to send people out into the field. It also reduces accidents in areas that are known to be extremely hazardous.
9: WAN monitoring
Companies do a good job monitoring and modifying their network traffic, but when that traffic routes over the wide area network or the internet, it sometimes seems like it is out of their control. Edge routers at different offices around the world can show dramatic variations in quality of service, depending upon whether an office is in Singapore or Rio de Janeiro. If IT wants to do a better job at internet traffic monitoring, it can subscribe to commercial services that show in real time where the slowdowns are and that can even reroute traffic to keep communications moving.
10: GPS data aggregation
GPS data aggregation is one of the most widely used IoT data collection methods. It is loved by companies because it lets them pull in demographic data, weather data, infrastructure data, pictorial data, and any other type of data that can be pinned to specific geographic locations. Many commercial vendors can help you aggregate GPS data in ways that are meaningful to your business.
- IoT: Forget hardware, think product and service possibilities
- A secret to IoT success: Start small
- Ocean Mist Farms embraces the IoT to grow better crops and save water
- The power of IoT and big data (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)
- The industrial Internet of Things: Setting the context, seeing the value (Tech Pro Research)
Has your organization found a way to take advantage of IoT technology? Share your advice and experiences with TechRepublic members.
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.