IoT in the Enterprise
The current trends that we’re seeing in the enterprise suggest that advances in IoT won’t be about the devices themselves, but rather the clever use of those devices to generate value. Companies getting the most success out of connected devices are identifying the value niches that can benefit from IoT technology. Those value niches are in three areas:
- Improving operational intelligence
- Creating new customer experiences
- Optimizing operational efficiency
Improving operational intelligence: benchmarking manufacturing
One of the largest CPG companies on the planet has a seemingly simple problem. They have about two hundred factories, and each one has a set of machines that gathers all sorts of information about the manufacturing process, how much material they are using, failure rates, etc. They had no easy way of getting that data from those factory locations to their head office where they can use the data for real-time reporting and ultimately benchmarking productivity between their factories. They would actually have to have people go and collect the data on a weekly cycle in order to understand what was happening in their factories.
Now, using Anypoint Edge, they have a cost-effective way to connect two hundred sites. IoT enterprise technology allows them to collect that data and Edge Layer allows them to get that information in real-time. They now get insights into what's going on on their manufacturing floors and processes instantly.
Creating new consumer experiences: Connecting with your pets
There are many IoT scenarios that do not require an Edge Layer, but can leverage the Server layer architecture to connect devices. There's a group of people that loves their pet more than anything. i4c is a company that has created a pet collar to help those people be more connected to their pets with a collar that behaves like a Fitbit for dogs. But creating this collar created a number of interesting problems. Unlike Fitbit users, dogs don’t have smartphones, so the collar can’t connect to the internet through the phone. i4C had to come up with a way of connecting their collar directly to the cloud to send the data it was collecting. The collar was designed to talk directly to the internet over 3G and they used an API layer built on our cloud platform to create the data gateway that allowed the collar to connect with their back-end data collection and operational systems. At the time of writing, they were approaching about 75,000 of these collars in production, and are collecting 5 billion data points weekly. This is where the reliability of data interchange becomes important; funneling all that data and processing is only going to become a greater challenge as more and more devices add a greater amount to that load. Any platform that helps run IoT devices is going to need the infrastructure to scale the amount of data processed very quickly.
Operational Efficiency: Reducing workload by 70%
Another company that uses API-led connectivity to power its IoT initiatives is Rentokil. If i4C is for animals you love, Rentokil is for animals that you don't love so much. It is a multinational hygiene services company. One of its services is pest control; they have about a thousand employees that go check pest traps for rats and other undesirable animals. In the past, somebody would go check the traps every couple of days, then the notion of humane pest traps was introduced, which means the trap has to be checked 24 hours as an animal can’t be left in there for longer than that. Therefore, the cost of running these traps is pretty high. So to bring down the cost and make their business more efficient Rentokil created smart connected traps. They used a sensor on the trap that will send out a signal when the trap has caught an animal and then the pest controller will simply go to empty the trap. This has increased the efficiency of that workforce by 70% since they no longer check empty traps and can optimize the routes taken by the pest controllers.
The emergence of IoT has extended the notion that APIs can connect anything to everything. We believe that the value of IoT to the enterprise in the near future is the clever use of those devices - and their accompanying APIs - to generate real value for enterprise workforces and their customers. The innovation in IoT will come in industries identifying value niches where connected devices can benefit from this technology. The CIO’s role in developing an IoT strategy comes in imagining the successful outcome and building an IoT approach, using API-led connectivity, to enable it.
Take a look at more resources on how IoT could help your business.