The Internet of Things is a concept that has entered the public consciousness over the last few years. Its acronym, IoT, trips off the tongue of anyone talking about digitalization. Everyone has heard of it – yet if you ask people what IoT really is, the vast majority will talk about technology such as wearables and sensors. Although these are the most visible manifestations of IoT, the real value to an organization comes from the business solutions that are enabled by IoT.
Our customers operate in highly competitive markets. They care about their customers and their businesses. They are always looking to improve customer satisfaction, increase revenue, and/or reduce costs. Preferably all three. They are therefore only interested in technology where it can give them a competitive advantage and, since it’s our job to support our customers, we use technology as an enabler to deliver that business solution.
Quite often a conversation starts with our customer talking about a specific problem which relates to an operational issue. We look for ways to solve that operational problem – more often than not, senior executives are looking for real-time information and insight which enables early and proactive decision making. One way to generate real-time information is to digitalize the business. We put sensors on assets to allow them to talk to each other, and use GlobeRanger’s iMotion IoT platform to process the streams of data that come from those sensors to give our customers the information they need, at the right time, to enable them to take the right action.
So far, IoT technology has been used mainly to generate operational efficiencies. This is a powerful proposition – who would not want to reduce costs by 30%, or achieve greater inventory accuracy, or increase revenue by automating manual processes that were prone to human error. For example, GlobeRanger’s Emergency Equipment Management (EEM) solution in the aviation sector allows technicians to simply walk through an aircraft with a mobile RFID reader to reduce inspection times from around four hours to 5 minutes. This will automatically confirm that emergency equipment is present and serviceable, alerting if anything is missing. This frees up mechanics to spend more time getting aircraft back in the air rather than inspecting and reporting.
However, achieving these sorts of operational efficiencies really only scratch the surface of the true potential of IoT. The real value of IoT is unlocked when you leverage technology to change how a company operates. That can only happen when you take all the new data streams and apply data analytics to find trends and new ways to design or develop a new product or capture new customers. Companies will not only have real-time information but before-time information – they will be able to apply predictive analytics to plan ahead with far more accuracy, based on their own data.
Staying with aviation as an example, most aircraft built today have a huge number of components with built-in sensors. In fact, each Boeing 787 aircraft generates approximately half a terabyte of data from all these connected ‘things’. So now each component can autonomously alert the airline when it is approaching a maintenance milestone. When a component comes off the plane, airlines can ensure that all the correct spare parts are ordered, and in place, based on data analytics of previous maintenance cycles. Also an appropriately qualified mechanic is also in the right place at the right time, with the right equipment that is properly calibrated. The part is then tracked through the maintenance process to ensure it is reinstalled on the aircraft, with all correct regulatory standards met, in the shortest time possible.
This same methodology is applied across all of GlobeRanger’s aviation solution: from managing repairables and rotables (component or inventory items that can be repeatedly and economically restored to a fully-serviceable condition and put back on the shelf as spares), to airframe management and tool management. In effect, GlobeRanger is an entire “smart hangar” solution. This way of leveraging the technology means that the companies leading the way in innovative IoT deployments are not necessarily technology companies, but the innovative industry leaders such as airlines or major maintenance, repair, and overhaul organizations that manage thousands of aircraft. Their adoption of IoT technology is driven by the business need to keep aircraft in the air – thereby generating revenue.
And it is when you are able to apply the same approach and methodology across multiple industries that you can really unlock the value of IoT – because implementing an IoT-driven approach can be standardized, then simply fine-tuned.
My advice to anyone who is trying to work out just how to both qualify and quantify the value of an IoT implementation is to focus on the business value. You need to get away from the mindset that this is a techie thing and needs to be surrounded by complex technological infrastructures and systems. Instead, focus on building the business case for IoT itself, and not the technologies.
Change your thinking about IoT. It’s not about this year’s latest gadgets, it is about transformative business solutions, delivering real impact to your business. That’s what distinguishes the Fujitsu approach, because we are focused on helping our customers see the big picture and unlock the true benefit to their business that IoT can deliver.