Business leaders who leverage big data and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will be most successful in preparing their companies for long-term, competitive growth.
The marriage of data and IoT is among the most significant drivers of change in the way business owners run their companies. In fact, according to Tamara Dull of SAS in her exploration of the relationship between big data and the IoT, “data – big and small – is front and center in the IoT world of connected devices.” As such, the need for solutions that can make sense of this information will be central to BI and crucial to boosting productivity, informed decision-making, and improved results.
Uncovering Next-Gen BI in IoT
First, let’s get a feel for the IoT ecosystem, explained nicely in CompTia’s research report, Sizing Up the Internet of Things. The sensors in IoT devices can track everything from blood pressure to tire pressure, and turn those readings into digital data. Business intelligence software, usually cloud-based, turns that data into actionable information. Information becomes the foundation of better decisions.
Without wireless connections, none of that is possible.
The result is an influx of data the company can use to make smarter decisions about the business, using real-time information that may otherwise go unnoticed. A QuinStreet Enterprise survey reveals that three-quarters of professionals expect IoT to have a significant impact on their industries, and 49% say IoT will be critical or important to their companies’ growth. Consider these examples of how it’s already making a difference:
- Retail—tactically placed in-store devices track customer behavior and provide metrics related to shopper traffic and transactions, enabling managers to make strategic merchandising decisions.
- Healthcare—glucometers and blood pressure cuffs monitor patients’ vital signs from a remote location and send data to providers to aid in diagnostics and enhanced delivery of care.
- Field Services—fleet telematics devices, plugged into a vehicle’s diagnostics port, automate mileage tracking, monitor driver behaviors for safety, and track vehicle location in real-time, helping fleet managers with scheduling, maintenance, and cost-savings.
The IoT transformation, from readings to data to information, lets decision makers work smarter, not harder. That’s why it’s important for IoT vendors to make information accessible. These three steps will help vendors meet the increasing demand for solutions that can collect, analyze, and deliver insights that improve these business intelligence efforts:
1. Informing Strategic Decisions
Business intelligence software provides information that reduces guess work. Whether it’s the greater variety of metrics provided by BI software, or the real-time information it once took months to get, business intelligence plugs the gaps in information.
An article in Harvard Business Review talks about how the big data explosion has changed decision making. Collecting data becomes the first step of increasingly agile, informed decision-making process. Creating data is no longer an end-goal; it’s one stage of the decision-maker’s conscious choice. While IoT solutions may collect the relevant data, the question becomes whether it is useful to help businesses make important decisions.
2. Driving Operational Efficiency
I spoke to a business recently and majority of their workforce were “deskless” workers who did most of their work out of their fleet vehicle. Prior to introducing business and fleet management software, everything was done by hand. It regularly cost the company time and money due to inefficiencies and inaccuracies. The complexity of operations is much much higher for businesses with a mobile workforce.
Thankfully, IoT can help.
IoT technology now gives this business a better way to streamline operations and gain new efficiencies that help the bottom line. The time and money lost on, say, invoicing countless paper slips, is no longer an issue. Workers can enter and send invoices from their smart phones. Connected devices help automate processes and free up the time and energy of employees, and save overall business costs.
3. Saving Opportunity Costs
Consider the cost of not knowing the pertinent data and running blind, merely hoping to take right steps for your business—launching a new product that seems like a good fit the market’s need, for instance. Decisions based on IoT-driven insights can ensure alignment with strategy and contribute to more successful outcomes.
John Fruehe, senior analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy, told Forbes, “Instead of focusing on the how of IoT, customers need to be focused on the what of IoT—namely the data. All of the strategy and shiny objects in the world won’t help if the data isn’t accurate, secure, and actionable. The data should always drive the strategy; the implementation tail should not be wagging the data dog. This strategy needs to start at the business level based on identifiable business needs and then filter down to the products.”
Over the years, it has been fascinating to watch how technology has evolved to meet our changing needs—and from desktop computing and SaaS, from mobile to IoT, what has been fundamental to growth is data. The IoT is changing from ripples to waves in the consumer world and is definitely now penetrating and empowering businesses. When a consumer gets Ring, Nest, or Amazon Echo, they feel like they bought a cool device—but really, what gives them value is the data intelligence behind it. It is no different for businesses.
If you’re interested in how connected devices can help your field technicians, check out Capterra’s fleet management or field service management directories to find a vendor who can help you transform everyday tasks into a source of intelligence.
Looking for Business Intelligence software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Business Intelligence software solutions.