Internet of things (IoT)
The silent revolution for connected devices
The Internet of Things (IoT) is sometimes referred to as a silent revolution. The IoT is suddenly all around us, without there ever having been a big-bang moment. It’s in our homes, in public spaces, and in the products we use every day. And if studies are to be believed, this is just the beginning.
Broad Horizon believes that the IoT will become an increasingly important factor for every organization. From optimizing processes and facilitating employees to developing products and improving customer relations – the IoT has a key role to play in the digital transformation. But where should you start?
What is IoT?
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is the term used to describe the technology that connects physical devices to the Internet and to other connected devices. Sensors are used to collect and send data from the device, providing insights that you can use to optimize business processes and create a digital universe around a product.
The car that sends you a message when your tyre pressure is too low; your alarm system that is connected to cameras and immediately sends the right images to the security company; smart homes based on home automation; underground waste containers that automatically send a message when they are too full. These are all everyday examples of the IoT. In a nutshell, the IoT is everywhere.
Data, data, data
When we talk about IoT, the first thing that springs to mind is smart devices with sensors. That’s what we can actually see and touch. But the IoT is so much more than that. The real value of the IoT is, in fact, in data: all those hundreds of billions of devices creating a multitude of data in the cloud. Data that you as an organization can benefit from.
Every IoT solution consists of a chain of four steps.
It all starts with devices fitted with sensors that generate data based on usage. All these devices then send that data to the central cloud where it is securely stored. Subsequently, this data is used for analyses and prediction models based on artificial intelligence, and conclusions are drawn.
Finally, this is translated into practical follow-up measures aimed at an end user or within a business process. This is how the data from the IoT device is converted into value.
If you want to take the leap into the world of IoT, the technical aspect is not that much of an undertaking. After all, the technology has already demonstrated its practical merits and we can also guide you through the process. The real challenge lies in translating the technical opportunities into practical applications for yourself and your customers. How does the IoT fit into your strategy and how can it be deployed effectively? We would be more than happy to help you explore your options.
We understand that every organization is different. As such, we have developed an approach that consists of several phases: Envision, Onboard, and Journey. By working methodically through the three phases, we make the technology accessible to you and enable your employees to actively participate in the process. While doing so, we also gather insights about the organization, its goals, and its target groups – insights that we use as a foundation for developing a roadmap based on smaller use cases related to the IoT. A number of quick-wins are often instantly for the taking.
Practical applications for the IoT
There are many practical applications for the IoT in a commercial context. Here are a few examples.
IoT in field service
Predict maintenance tasks
The world of Field Service often involves the installation, maintenance, repair, and inspection of equipment. But what if that equipment is connected to the Internet and transmits data about its use to the central system?
Not only can this information be used by, for example, a marketing department to better advise customers, but it can also be used to predict when maintenance or repair work is required for each individual piece of equipment. So you no longer have to rush to a customer to get faulty equipment back up and running. Instead, you can communicate and take action proactively a few days before a problem arises. This will increase customer satisfaction and service levels and reduce operational costs.
IoT in manufacturing
Maximum utilization of resources
IoT really comes into its own in a manufacturer’s production hall. Where machines run around the clock to produce as much as possible and where machine downtime immediately leads to delays in the rest of the process. By equipping these machines with IoT sensors, you can visualize actual production in real time. AI-based prediction models can even prevent a production line from coming to a complete halt.
IoT in logistics
Keep track of goods in real time
Transparency is key in a logistics chain. As is the tracking and tracing of goods, whereby administrative systems are often used to provide insights into the various steps in a chain. The IoT can play an important role in generating a more complete and accurate picture without increasing the administrative burden. Problems and exceptional situations in the logistics process can also be identified immediately, which means that action can be taken even before they affect the rest of the process.
IoT in retail
Understanding customer behaviour
The IoT is set to play an important role in the stores of tomorrow. It is increasingly being used to map customer movements, for example. Are there areas of the store that attract (too) few customers? Are there areas that people walk by (too) quickly? Are there areas where bottlenecks occur? These insights can be used to actively implement improvements that have a direct impact on monthly turnover. Besides generating better insights, IoT in retail is also increasingly being used to improve the customer experience or to apply dynamic pricing, for example, as is already common practice in the world of e-commerce.
IoT in warehousing
Optimize your warehouse
The IoT is also gaining ground in more and more large goods warehouses. By visualizing movements in the warehouse, it is possible to actively control warehouse activities and the layout. Thanks to AI-based prediction models, it is also possible to achieve lower stock levels and higher turnover rates.
IoT in finance
A variable premium based on behaviour
This might come as a surprise, but the use of the IoT is also increasing rapidly in the banking and insurance sector. Customers can use their phones and various wearables to provide insight into their behaviour, based on which, for example, cheaper premiums are offered. After all, a healthy lifestyle and responsible driving behaviour contribute to a reduction in overall costs for society.
Although gritters are not in use for much of the year, they spring into action in droves when the temperature drops. This IoT application therefore has specific requirements in terms of being able to quickly scale up and scale down the environment in ad hoc situations. Thanks to our platform services, we are ready to take on this challenge, day and night.
No more cold showers or waiting for a technician. At Feenstra, data from thousands of boilers is collected and analysed so that defects can be predicted very accurately. Users receive an e-mail a few days in advance with an instructional video, for example on how to refill water to prevent a breakdown.
Want to see what’s happening ‘inside’ a machine using special glasses? Meet the Microsoft HoloLens. Holograms transform augmented analytics into a reality on the shop floor, allowing you, for example, to see production figures for each machine in real time and to receive automatic notifications of any incidents in the process.
A flying start with IoT
Getting started with IoT may not be as simple as downloading an app or activating a subscription in the cloud, but depending on the exact use case, we can deploy a number of standard products and services as building blocks. This helps your project get off to a flying start and create value in a short period of time.
An important starting point for any IoT initiative is the central cloud environment where all data is stored. And since, over time, we are talking about huge amounts of data, we have specific ready-to-go configurations based on Azure IoT available for IoT where it comes to computing power, performance, and storage capacity.
Underlined CX platform
Data from IoT can often be used to improve the Customer Experience. Particularly when this data is intelligently combined with existing data from other systems, AI can be used to create the ‘next best action’ or the ‘next best offer’.
Microsoft’s Dynamics365 Apps contribute to the optimization of business processes focused on, for example, Field Service, Manufacturing, and Logistics. Combining this with the IoT creates new opportunities to simplify business processes and improve the customer experience.
Protecting systems is becoming increasingly important. We have developed a service specifically for IoT contexts where large amounts of (user) data is stored that continuously monitors and optimizes security.
DOTS Predictive Services
Our prediction models based on machine learning help us better predict maintenance work on equipment and potential failures based on collected IoT data. The result? An improved customer experience and lower operational costs.
The low-code/no-code Power Platform can be used to perform automated processes based on data from IoT, for example when exceeding a certain threshold. This can be applied directly to the work process via a PowerApp.
Managed Back-up & Recovery
When the data connected to an IoT case is of great value, it is vital that you organize the back-up and recovery of that data well in advance. This way, you can always revert to a backed-up version if necessary.
Underlined Process Mining
When IoT is deployed in a production or service process or, for example, in a logistics chain, our standard Process Mining tools can help to quickly gain insights and remove bottlenecks.
You can create the most value by combining IoT data with data from other applications and (public) data sources. Connect Plus Integration Services is an Azure-based service bus that enables these links to be implemented and managed quickly and easily.
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