The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most important trends of the 21st century and is destined to change our business and markets.
IoT applications have been present for the longest time in the industrial field, leading to the emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
IIoT is the area of IoT in the greatest rise and prominence, with advancements related to automation and robotics. This is thanks to the innovation that production systems are experiencing with the adoption of the Industry 4.0.
With this fourth industrial revolution, we have stopped seperating companies to ones that only do services and others that only deal with products. Instead, there is now a union of the physical with the digital (named “Phygital”), that allows all those who have the courage, audacity, and skills to start using IoT technology to imagine a different world.
Therefore IoT does not exclusively concern those who deal with products, but rather can involve any professional and profession. If you know the technological basis of IoT, you have the possibility to image new services and new products useful to market.
The analysis of production is accompanied by a radical change that gives a digital identity to these “smart connected products”, giving the possibility to know the needs of customers and consequently having the tools to propose new useful services to support these products.
I'll try to explain myself better by reporting a classic example of IOT, namely: Google Home or Alexa. Both are an integral part of many individual’s everyday life.
I often use Alexa and Google Home, and think it’s terribly fascinating to be able to communicate directly with a plastic box that follows my commands to the letter, facilitating small helpful gestures.
For example, when using voice commands with Google home to turn on and off lights, we may think that the dialogue takes place machine to machine and device to device via bluetooth or other technological means. However, the fascinating thing is that this complex technological process has the possibility to pass services through the cloud.
This allows companies to understand users' behaviors and their needs, accessing information that was previously hidden—if not invisible—to the market.
The very purpose of IoT, and the prerogative of its usefulness, is that it can collect, process and analyze large amounts of big data in real time.
In fact, an important and radical change has also occurred in marketing. Thanks to these technologies, companies can have real-time sales data, know where and how their products are purchased, and receive immediate feedback from customers. The result is strategic planning in real time, comprised of continuous and constant adjustments. IoT is the starting point for the creation of connected products—i.e., objects that network their ability to detect contextual information. In fact, if connected products are aligned with production systems as early as the product creation phase, they subsequently allow the processes themselves to be modified according to actual customer needs.
In this way, we move from connected products to smart products, in which intelligence is added to interconnection. With a network of interconnected and smart products, it is possible to create new value services for users. For example, brands can exploit this new communication channel to relate to those who own and use things in order to personalize offers. Customer management and after-sales service can also be more contextualized and customized to the individual consumer.
According to marketing experts, future consumers will be less and less willing to type their requests on a device and more and more convinced that their needs must be immediately understood and fulfilled.
Smart things will lead consumers to new habits and cultivate new expectations. Similarly, IoT enables smarter, more targeted advertising: Useful and relevant messages, aligned with the consumer's profile, behaviors, and purchases previously made.
In conclusion, this demonstrates how IoT can be applied to other business disciplines—giving a real possibility of growth and making possible the creation of new products and new services.
Francesca Panceri is a Sales Engineer at Autoware, certified members of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about Autoware, visit its profile on the Industrial Automation Exchange.