smart home device with smart phone next to it
PHOTO: Bence ▲ Boros

The internet of things (IoT), including sensors in retail locations, on industrial equipment, on municipal water meters and for various other uses, has been growing in recent years as a way to provide better B2B and B2C customer experience, but the installations so far are relatively small compared to what is expected over the next decade.

CapGemini predicts that by 2030, IoT technology will connect an expected 125 billion devices. These devices will provide further opportunities to expand CX opportunities in the B2B and B2C markets, especially with 5G technology providing better and faster throughput of IoT sensors to users of the data.

According to a CapGemini blog, IoT is already being used in the following ways:

  • Vehicles with GPS tracking that connect with monitoring and control systems to enable smart logistics or machines with programmable logic controller (PLC) connected with asset performance management systems. Such tracking enables enterprises to track truck fleets and other remote assets.
  • Providing real-time information — An elevator company uses real-time data to provide an IoT-based predictive maintenance solution to their customers. The company collects real-time data from sensors and use the information to anticipate maintenance and repair needs even before a breakdown occurs.
  • Optimizing the use of the product/services — An engine manufacturer uses IoT in their engines for commercial aircraft. The company collects the data from their engines and use it to improvise maintenance operations. They find out about the performance of their engines and then pass on the relevant information to their customers.

Industrial Applications

Beyond the uses CapGemini discussed, there have been a variety of industrial applications as well. Below are a few examples.

  • Schneider Electric has an open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform, EcoStruxure. In April, the company launched an uninterruptable power supply (UPS), Galaxy VL, that connects via with ExoStructure to enable data center operators and other users to enable customers to monitor and manage the UPS to know immediately if there is an issue that could result in a power failure.
  • Mauser Packaging Solutions, a worldwide provider of metal, plastic, fiber and hybrid packaging solutions with worldwide customer base, uses IoT to pull and share daily machine reports that quantified hourly downtime, cycle time and goal targets for each line. The ability to access accurate reports all within the system provides the ability to respond to issues (i.e., components nearing failure) to help increase plant efficiency.

Related Article: Explaining IoT to a 5th Grader

Improved Restaurant Efficiency

Consumers are getting better CX from various IoT applications. For example, Chick-fil-A introduced an IoT network through the kitchen's devices (the grill, freezers, cash registers) to optimize food orders and reduce costs and delivery times, said Juan Pablo Sarmiento founder and CEO of ByPeople.com. “Chick-fil-A has improved its efficiency by using an Edge computing system and combining it with IoT.”

Chick-fil-A blog shared how IoT has been instrumental in helping the restaurant scale its business and drive automation throughout the chain, helping owners and franchisees better understand supply and demand for various menu items.

While a large company like Chick-fil-A has the financial wherewithal to implement IoT devices throughout the organization, the technology has yet to penetrate many smaller companies, according to Sarmiento. “In our company, we haven't had the opportunity to implement an internet of things system because a high investment is required and the organization is not big enough to take full advantage of this technology. However, we've been investigating and analyzing IoT trends because it's a very useful tool for data analysis.”

Related Article: 7 Big Problems With the Internet of Things

From Smart Homes to Smart Mannequins

Household uses of so-called "smart" devices are probably the first thing people think of when looking at IoT in consumer lives, and for good reason. The global smart home market reached $93 billion dollars in 2020, according to Statista. These devices take the shape of smart lightbulbs, speakers, security cameras, washing machines and more. Analysts predict this is only the tip of the iceberg as consumers introduce more interconnected devices in their homes and companies compete to introduce further ease of use, increased security and interconnectivity. 

IoT is also visible when people leave their homes. Though the pandemic reduced mall traffic around the world, as it picks up again, shoppers are likely to come across more “smart mannequins” that use beacon technology to sense when a consumer is within a specified range to talk about the outfit it is wearing. The technology has been used in Macy’s and other retail stores with significant fashion sales.

Related Article: The IoT: Usability by Design

More Opportunities Ahead

Analysts and others expect IoT to continue to provide increasing CX opportunities for B2C and B2B markets.

“As manufacturers and distributors are now coming out of what may have been the worst social and economic event any operation has faced, they are now ready to re-focus on key investments that will help them to maintain or achieve a competitive advantage,” said Dave Lechleitner, director of marketing at Ultra Consultants. “One such investment that continues to gain traction with these businesses is IoT, as companies embrace it to enhance it to gain greater insight into their products and customers.”