Adoption of new technology has a predictable curve. But the growth of one group of technologies is exhibiting extremely high and fast adoption rates that signal unprecedented changes in business and manufacturing. One of these technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), is poised to impact manufacturing in many ways.
IoT is changing the way we perceive the world and interact with it. But it is especially impactful in businesses such as manufacturing where it has ushered in huge gains in efficiency and cost reduction and has led to the creation of new products and services at a fraction of traditional R&D cost and time.
IoT by the Numbers
It is estimated that by 2030, there will be 15 connected devices for every person alive. And the impact on industries such as manufacturing is eye opening from a financial standpoint as well. One industrial IoT provider states that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) could add as much as $14.2 trillion dollars by 2030.
IIoT software companies have improved their platforms and the quality and connectivity options for devices. As this has occurred, IIoT has expanded past cloud-only solutions to incorporate edge device technology that will only grow as 5G arrives and proliferates. These Low Power Wide Area Network LPWAN devices allow further expansion and reach for connected factories and LPWAN device counts are expected to exceed 3.44 billion by 2021.
IoT Considerations for Entrepreneurs to Consider
As the Internet of Things (IoT) roars along in the 21st Century, entrepreneurs need help in navigating new challenges as well as navigating an ever-changing business landscape and the current disruption it is causing. And because IoT will change the way we work, there are several things today’s entrepreneur should consider when preparing for this new paradigm and to take advantage of what IoT has to offer.
- Artificial Intelligence – Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to advance and will be indispensable in driving IoT. There are two primary reasons for this. First, the sheer volume of data generated by that many connected devices is more than humans or current software systems can handle. AI will be able to recognize value in data, analyze patterns, and deploy a solution in real-time or near real-time. Second, this data and connectivity will not be just keystrokes or sensor readings. It will encompass speech, voice, facial recognition and other biometric data to trigger interactions. New businesses and ventures will need to include this consideration to define how AI will fit into a business model.
- Infonomics – It is not just the volume of data that IoT delivers to an enterprise that matters with IoT. The quality and integrity of data and the insights it reveals through deployment of advanced analytics is changing the way companies view data. These insights are so valuable that companies now consider them a strategic asset. Some can monetize this data on products and services by selling it to others. It can also be used to create a value-added service within a company that was not possible to offer before such as an “X” as a Service arrangement. Entrepreneurs should not overlook the value of the data rendered available by IoT in new ventures and how that data can inform their decision-making on key products and services.
- Business Processes – How a company runs will also change with IoT. The volume of data coupled with complex machine learning algorithms and advanced analytics offers real-time reactive capability as well as the identification of data trends not previously detectable. Some of the aspects of business process management that will be impacted by IoT include:
- Proper sensor placement
- Visualization systems that allow visual observation of physical tasks displayed dynamically
- Degree of autonomous or semi-autonomous functionality
- Checking and evaluating process correctness
- Discovering new processes or process improvements from data analysis
- Customer Experience – The ability to link and analyze data will start with vendors and move through to placement at retailers, meaning companies can improve customer experience faster and address problems quicker or prevent them all together. Along with shared infonomics between manufacturers and retailers, deep level customer behavior can be predicted, detected, analyzed and used to improve products, reduce shortages and respond to spikes or dips in demand more quickly.
- Product Development – For many entrepreneurs, scaling and creating new products and services is paramount to their success. IoT brings with it the possibility of reduced time to market and significantly lower cost over traditional product development. One example of this is the creation of digital twins. A digital twin is a simulation that can be created virtually and visualized through CAD and 3D programs. The simulation uses real data gained from current product performance to help create new products or improve existing ones. By simulating quality, wear, failure and other problems, digital twins reduce cost and time spent in multiple iterations. Digital twins create a feedback loop for product developers. They also improve innovation, increase process efficiency, and help standardize new processes for new products and services.
Entrepreneurs are inherently drawn to challenges. But the challenges presented by IoT in today’s world are only daunting if they are not built into new ventures at the beginning. To help business leaders understand the vital role that technology brings the Henry Bernick Entrepreneur Centre at Georgian College offers services that educate and promote entrepreneurship through teaching, research, innovation and support.