Infosys’ Ravi Kumar argues that IoT is driving digital revolution in business, from simplifying internal processes to generating new and imaginative ways of working.
In this hyper-connected digital age, companies are trying to formulate their strategies for coping with, and using, digital-enablement for commerce.
How organisations interact with information and digital services, both externally and internally, is changing, whilst Internet of Things (IoT) strategies are being drawn up to change, simplify and humanise the way that businesses operate.
One way to think about this digital transformation is to consider how technology is connecting with internal and external end users. The digital experiences that form the basis of our lives today – from the likes of Uber, Deliveroo and Airbnb – are about making services and information more relevant, immediate and more desirable.
What works in the consumer sector is increasingly being ported to the B2B world too – and largely in this bid to simplify internal business activities and data gathering.
There is also emerging an extreme scale of cost performance. The advent of more intelligent, automated and connected systems means businesses can execute increasingly sophisticated tasks. Digital disintermediation has reduced the distance between producers, data, services and users to zero. The middle layers, with all its complexities, have been stripped away. This has brought down costs dramatically.
Changing business through IoT
There are two aspects to managing digital revolution in any sector. One that seeks to make improvements, delivering efficiencies through the transformation of atoms to bits like the implementation of smart heating controls in a home or office. Another that tries to redefine the landscape in a wave of massive change to the customer experience, like the shift from analogue to digital broadcasting. The IoT is playing a leading role is driving this agenda.
In the enterprise, the IoT can be used to reduce the distance between the points of manufacturing and consumption, between understanding and preventing points of failure in machines, in the making process, and between what the customer wants and what is delivered. It ensures that greater value comes from bringing intelligence directly to the end-points. In doing this the IoT allows for new concepts of ‘making’ and ‘serving’ to emerge from existing industries.
For example, the move by the energy industry into smart metering was designed to eliminate the lag in tracking consumption. It replaced manual meter reading with live, near real-time digital reporting. The by-product of this has been to provide customers with greater visibility of their energy consumption by cost as well as units consumed. It has resulted in a marketplace that is more dynamic, with users that are more informed. As a result, users are better equipped to understand the competitive cost and value of the service being provided.
Consider the case of the insurance company that worked with us to use the IoT to monitor end-user driving behaviour. Not just offer risk protection, but to enable risk prevention. The initiative naturally evolved into a new approach to pricing – that of usage-based insurance. Using an in-car telemetry plug-in, the insurer can monitor and transmit driving proficiency data and generate driving profiles. This led to the shaping of ‘personalised’ premiums that rewarded responsible driving. A market-disruptive innovation that has changed the insurance buying experience and buying dynamics.
Another recent business IoT example is the creation of a ‘digital twin’ for airplane landing gear. Landing gear is a critical subsystem of an aircraft. Continuously improving the reliability of these mission-critical assets, while reducing the development lifecycle, is a task that keeps designers busy every day. Creating the ‘digital twin’ for landing gear by fitting actual hardware with 30 additional critical Internet-connected sensors allowed all operational behaviour and parameters to be virtually tested. This included predicting a gear’s useful remaining life and how that intersected with the number of flights planned for it. What started out as an exercise in predictive maintenance created lasting positive implications for making flying safer.
The IoT enables both computing and traditionally non-computing devices to become connected, allowing us to benefit from a data-rich ecosystem of more intelligent, more responsive, more governed, more mindful machines. Moreover, it amplifies human imagination, taking mundane and routine tasks and allowing them to be automated and digitised. This frees the business and its users to pursue new ideas, new ways of making and working.
Also read: The 10 hottest Internet of Things start-ups
Ravi Kumar S is executive vice president & chief delivery officer at Infosys