There’s no denying the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT)—research firm Accenture, tech mainstay Cisco, and manufacturing giant GE all predict a $14.2 trillion market for connected devices by 2030. So it’s not surprising that companies are looking for ways to leverage the transportation and logistics side of this equation: a wirelessly enabled world comes with promises of near-perfect package tracking and supply chain management. But driving value from IoT deployments isn’t fire-and-forget; here are three keys to delivering real ROI.
Analyze the Impact
IoT isn’t always the best solution to a problem. For example, a company still struggling to merge legacy and cloud technologies may find the addition of internet-connected devices only adds complexity rather than streamlining business processes. The key here? Consider the business-side impact of adopting IoT against market opportunity as well as your readiness both from the business and technical perspectives: What does ROI look like, and what type of metrics will accurately demonstrate a project success? What is the opportunity cost of not incorporating IoT solutions at this point? By considering the end before investing up-front, it’s to possible avoid the issue of premature adoption.
Plan for Practical
If your initial evaluation suggests that IoT deployment is the next logical step, it’s time to drill down and envision practical outcomes. For example, a recent Silicon Angle article speaks to some of the efforts being made in the transportation sector to leverage IoT—Hamburg, Germany is working toward the world’s first smartPORT by using technologies such as intelligent traffic lights to reduce congestion along with inductive loops and detectors to record traffic volumes, vessel types and average speeds.
For companies just getting started with IoT, it’s essential to draw well thought-out potential use cases; how do new devices and their data streams add new value for customers or enable competitive differentiation? Is it possible to lower supply chain cost by adding automated services, or drive service innovation within the company itself? How can that create opportunity to potentially reach new markets or business partners?
Adjust Your Technology
Once you’ve analyzed the impact and planned for practical applications, it’s time to take a hard look at your technology. From a technical standpoint, effectively adopting IoT requires two things: improved devices and a better way to handle data. Improved devices make things smart, and continue to make them smarter. As noted by Forbes, many pharmaceutical and food-shipment companies now use on-board sensors to detect not just temperature variations, but also when they occurred and for how long; technology is also in development using a combination of cameras, radar, and laser scanners to improve driver response time and even allow remote vehicle control.
Better data handling is next; consider the case of two companies both with solid business models and the latest sensor technology available. The one better equipped to handle high-volume data streams—structured and unstructured—in real time comes out ahead. Traditional big data analysis is highly useful to understand what has happened, how, and why. It can identify predictive patterns based on the data at rest. But this alone should not be the goal of the IoT implementation in many cases. Unless you have ability to see what’s happening in your operations in real time and identify the critical business moments—opportunities and threats that need to be acted upon immediately—you would not be fully leveraging your IoT investment. In transportation and logistics, re-routing, re-scheduling, and re-staffing have to happen in real time to achieve the best productivity and efficiency. Comprehensive IoT data strategy and IoT solutions tailored to fit your market niche and need form the backbone here, allowing you to capture data, generate actionable intelligence, and capitalize on opportunities (or mitigate risks) in real time.
Transportation and logistics companies stand to reap big rewards from IoT; arriving at this destination, however, requires detailed analysis, planning, and technological adjustment. Read this solution brief for the IoT development and growth in this segment.