By: Stefano Gastaut, Director, Vodafone Internet of Things (IoT)
Once upon a time, product was king.
But that time has gone. Success in today’s digital economy depends on more than just your product (although, of course, this still has to be good).
Now, businesses have to undergo a complex balancing act to create a differentiated and optimised customer experience that is adaptable, agile, scalable and efficient to deliver. Speed is crucial – businesses have to move with the changing tide of customer expectations.
To adapt at speed, organisations need data on demand; for many, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the source of this data.
And today I think it is fair to say that without IoT, digital transformation would be impossible – read on to find out why.
The driver of digital transformation
First, let’s dig into some statistics.
The latest Vodafone IoT Barometer shows 84% of IoT adopters describe their IoT projects as ‘mission critical’ to success, while 72% say digital transformation would be impossible without IoT.
A minority (8%) are going even further, saying their “entire business depends on IoT.”
Most importantly almost all adopters saw a return on investment, with 95% already seeing measurable benefits from their IoT projects.
With the advent of narrowband low power networks (NB-IoT and LTE-M) and 5G opening up more opportunities for IoT to be deployed at massive scale, it’s clear IoT is not just another trendy technology.
It’s far more than that: it’s the true driver of digital transformation for businesses.
The digital journey is evolving
Digital transformation is about processes as much as it is about technology.
It’s not just a case of automating what exists- for digitisation to be a success, the outcome has to be defined during the initial stages. Then you can apply technology to ensure that you reach the desired outcome.
Sometimes, this requires businesses to overhaul the way they operate. And it’s not necessarily a reversible process.
Once a transaction has been digitised and the manual processes optimised, it’s almost impossible to revert to the previous way of working.
By this point, the whole business framework has completely changed – with IoT firmly at the centre. Take fleet management as an example – IoT has revolutionised the management and route planning of vehicles to a point where we could never imagine going back to physical maps and radio communications.
This makes the choice of network partner crucial for business leaders implementing digitisation strategies.
The power of data
The value of IoT lies in its ability to measure and record data sets with a high level of granularity and completeness.
Businesses gain a holistic picture of their connected operations, and they can use this information to improve the process and increase performance.
But before the data delivers business insights, it needs to be analysed and processed. Luckily, the combined rise of IoT, cloud computing and the emergence of AI creates an almost perfect environment for the safe, secure and rapid processing of large amounts of data.
Whether this is used for predictive maintenance, the accurate scaling of infrastructure or to understand the customer interaction, there have never been more opportunities to leverage IoT data.
And with the introduction of 5G, the scope for IoT increases even further. The combination of low latency, high bandwidth and improved quality of service enables IoT networks to become control points for the productivity machines of the future; be these remotely controlled cranes, guided transporters in factories or autonomous cars and lorries.
A business fit for the future
IoT provides businesses with greater visibility and control over their performance and can control crucial outputs, quality and levels of service.
In addition, the valuable insights gained from analysing data can help inform strategy for the future. When you’re in possession of the complete picture, this allows creative approaches to problem-solving.
Some businesses are born digital whereas others have further to go with legacy systems and infrastructure, but all will ultimately need to undertake a digital journey.
Now is the time to start that journey – or supercharge it. And there’s only one option for doing this: it lies in IoT.