Get Ready for the Next Generation of Smart Products

The emerging smart connected products are setting a new standard for businesses of the future. From the fashion and telecom industries to the medical sector, IoT is providing secure, strategic new initiatives which are transforming the way we do business.

Several smart clothing lines that merge biometric technology and fashion will launch this year. Ralph Lauren piloted a new Polo Tech compression shirt at last year’s US Open that was able to send heartbeat, respiration, stress levels and other data to smartphones. In the future, smart clothing may become the new baseline expectation that allows consumers to live healthier lives.

Juniper Research predicts there will be 100 million connected cars on the road by 2016. Tesla recently signed a partnership with AT&T to provide embedded SIM card connectivity for safety diagnostics and other stats on driver habits and usage. A Tesla vehicle in need of repairs can call for corrective repairs autonomously and send notifications and alerts to customer and service technicians.

The micro device market is also one of the fastest growing segments of the medical industry, and with built in wireless monitoring capabilities, micro devices provide a new level of patient monitoring and care. Medical implants to monitor the heart, glucose levels and blood pressure made by companies such as Medtronic, can be inserted without surgery and operate without the troublesome and inconvenient wires found in older monitors.

Driving Efficiencies in Your Business

The ability for devices and systems to communicate and operate together implies significant infrastructure changes in the way these devices and systems are managed.

For example, Verizon is saving more than 55 million kWh annually across 24 data centers by deploying hundreds of sensors and control points throughout the data center, connected wirelessly. The result is a reduction of 66 million pounds of greenhouse gases per year.

UPS has increased the productivity of their entire network by monitoring their trucks’ and drivers’ every move. While those brown trucks may look the same, they now have hundreds of sensors. Analyzing data about the truck, driver and package’s every move allows UPS to optimize their delivery cycles, increase productivity and reduce costs. According to UPS, "saving just one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14.5 million.” A typical driver previously could deliver 90 packages per day. With the optimizations driven through data collection, deliveries have increased to 120 packages per day.

In a Cisco study, in the public sector alone, results suggested as much as $4.6 trillion in IoT related savings and revenues worldwide over the next decade. The killer apps might simply be realizing $1.9 trillion through improved energy efficiency in buildings, utility tracking and highway toll management.

What Should Companies Do?

Smart, connected products will absolutely transform your business. We will likely soon see built-in intelligence and connectivity emerge as the baseline standard for many mainstream products and services.

The big opportunity is not just in the digitalization of products, but in the new connected ecosystems, value chains and business models that these products can create. Companies can generate additional revenue from the development of new products and services based on IoT.

There are also opportunities for increased productivity and decreased costs from the inherit efficiencies that result in having self-monitoring products. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has the opportunity to significantly increase operational efficiencies through automation.

Here are some considerations as you embark on your IoT journey:

  • Revamp your product design process. Develop architectures that will accommodate sensor networks, intelligent devices and cloud product extensions. Expand your skills to accommodate the multiple tiers in a connected architecture such as edge devices and gateways
  • Expand your industry boundaries. Smart, connected products will expand industry boundaries by creating product systems that link a variety of product systems together to create an integrated system of systems. Linking these can rapidly increase automation and value creation
  • Prepare for security early. Smart, connected products open up new gateways to corporate systems and partner ecosystems. Identify security tools and architectures early on in your design process. Ensure you set up security at all levels -- the cloud, connectivity and device
  • Build industrial analytics capability. A deep capability in analytics and big data processing will be required to turn all of the data from sensors into real time insights. These analytical capabilities can also present an opportunity to be offered as a business service
  • Don’t forget about end user experience. As the capabilities and complexity of connected products and services increases, it’s critical the end-user have simple, intuitive user interfaces that allow personalization. Take advantage of smart phones and tablets to create rich, full-featured control applications.

Organizations need to move quickly to seize the opportunity around IoT. 

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  Paul Keller