Internet of Things
IoT is one of the much talked about topics now. And why not – internet is bringing humans and machines closer, making every day chores easy and making businesses more productive and efficient.
A common home scenario
The most common example you might have heard is the connection of various devices at home via the internet – for example, if washing machine, TV, lights, stereo and other home appliances all are connected over internet, we can control them even when we are outside. You can get the lights switched on, or turn on the geyser and stereo system before you reach home. However, IoT is more than just that.
IoT for business
You may have seen many articles describing what IoT does and the hype around what it can do. In this article, let us discuss how you can go about using IoT for your company with a simple use case.
The real power of IoT comes into picture when processes that are otherwise done manually are tedious, time and resource intensive and don’t yield the expected results. IoT helps automate stuff that is currently done manually to save time, resources and money and give consistent – rather better – results every time. This could be anything from monitoring a process remotely, collecting data from various sources, managing logistics and flow of a delivery process, machine health checks etc…
How to implement IoT for your business
If you are thinking about implementing IoT, the first step is to ask yourself the following –
- What are the processes that are taking more time? Why? Can we eliminate the tedious steps?
- What are the areas of the organization/department that needs a positive change? How can I bring the transformation?
- What are the changes that need to be done to align the processes that need improvement? This can include any possible restructuring within or outside the organization, changing market strategy and analysing what can be automated.
The simple case of IKEA
IKEA is one of the largest retailers in the world. How do they manage such a big store? How do make sure their inventory is updated, the check-in and check-out process is streamlined and there are no errors in the billing?
Firstly, if you have ever visited the store, you might notice that there are very few helpers around, however there is an app that guides you through the store. The sections are marked and you can look up for what you want using the app. The app is integrated with real-time data on the store.
How do you pick up stuff?
Secondly, there are lots of ideas shown in each department – for example, many kinds of sofa sets, curtains, beds etc… For example, you like a sofa and want to purchase. But you can’t pick the one on display. There is a QR code (sensor) attached to each product and you can scan through the QR code to know where you can pick up the product from. Meanwhile, you can go through the other sections and scan other items that you like. The sensor makes the product a smart one. Through the code, you know the exact location of the product and you pick the product from there. Finally, their inventory is automatically updated. The manufacturers can track this data and can update the product in the inventory before it goes out of stock!
It is a seamless transaction from start to end – no humans involved, no errors – you see something, like it, take it, get it billed and never worry about the product not being available. In addition to that, as the product details are updated in real-time, any health or technical issues with the product are also checked before it is dispatched, saving time and money.
All this is because of IoT. The data about each product (imagine thousands of products distributed to hundreds of retailers) is stored in the IoT platform along with details like product code, warranty, special instructions etc…
Everything in the store is connected via the internet. When you scan a product, the app checks for its availability in the inventory and tells you the exact location of it. When you actually buy it, the person at the billing counter puts it on your bill – and through their software the inventory is updated in real-time.
Further, the manufacturer knows in real-time about how many pieces of the product are left out, so there is never a problem of any product going out-of-stock. Based on this, data analytics can be done on products (for example, those that are more in demand, the ones having issues or the products that need improvement and so on) and business insights can be drawn. In future, IoT and Artificial Intelligence combined together can give powerful results. Read more about it here.
Imagine this whole process being done by humans. You would need one person to help the customers show the items and choose, another to help them get to the inventory and pick the product, another to update the inventory and inform the manufacturer about the availability of the product and yet another to analyse the data. However, as each of this process is integrated with the other through IoT, the manufacturer, buyer and seller are all in sync! This is what IoT is – connect things that are smart and can be connected over a network and let them interact with each other and work together for you, so that your work becomes easy. Check out this free course which will give you more insights on IoT and help you build ideas for more IoT.
A cheerful, full of life and vibrant person, I hold a lot of dreams that I want to fulfill on my own. My passion for writing started with small diary entries and travel blogs, after which I have moved on to writing well-researched technical content. I find it fascinating to blend thoughts and research and shape them into something beautiful through my writing.