IoT – from theory to application
Moving towards an IoT solution is all about the connections you want to make and the data that you want to capture. That may mean investing in a new technology mix to gather new data, or using what’s already available to improve your processes.
A relatively cheap RFID chip solution on a commercial product can give you tracking information about products in transit and your factory-to-store sales time. This means you can use that data to work out more effective means of transit over long distance, or collect sales numbers as they happen to get ahead of the next shipment.
This relatively simple solution gives a comparatively small amount of data to help you understand the products and their movements. However, understanding your customers and making the most of their data can be more complicated than working with products.
This could mean building an app or a device that fits into their daily life and gathers data for you to help understand their habits on a deeper level.
Financial industries use banking apps to track customer spending behaviours to pinpoint when they are ready for a better card or plan. Fitness industries use apps to remind customers to go to the gym and engage with special offers. Telcos use mobile data and tracking to see how customers use most of their data and highlight more cost effective plans or new devices.
The key to app interaction is utility; the data you’re able to collect is invaluable, but the product needs to have a tangible benefit to the customer in their everyday life.
The security of things
IoT means more connectivity – more connections between you and your business, but also more connections between you and your customers.
As customers connect with your business across a suite of devices, this gives you the potential to create a more complete view of your customers. It also brings with it the added need to protect their data as well as your own.
In an opinion piece for The Australian, Michael Sentonas, Vice President of Technology at digital security company CrowdStrike, says that digital privacy is becoming more of a concern for more Australians. “With weekly data breach scandals, individuals are becoming more aware and concerned about who has their data, and more importantly, who controls how that information is gathered, used and shared,” he writes.
In a world where more homes and businesses are connecting to more devices, opportunities for new innovation come with risks. Internet-enabled security cameras, for instance, are ironically one of the least secure IoT devices on the market, frequently hacked by nefarious cyber criminals.
These kind of breaches show just how IoT can be a double-edged sword. The benefits of increased customer data are clear, from the marketing benefits of customer tracking and retargeting, to the business growth projections provided through broader device engagements.
With the obvious benefits of IoT for the business and customers, the clear security risk needs to be addressed as well. When you look at an IoT solution, a simple IT security system might not cut it.
So how do you prepare for the Internet Of Things?
Think about your business, what devices you use and how things could work more efficiently. Look to your customers, how they engage with your business and how that could be improved. Think about what data your business actually needs to collect and how you’re going to store it, because all the data in the world is useless if you can’t use and protect it.
Be a data gatherer
Learn how to make the IoT work for your business.
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Originally published June 30th 2016. Updated July 30th 2019.