IOT: The Internet of Things Helps Manage Decisions

In any era, one of the characteristics of a good leader has always been their ability to take a good decision with the limited information available to them. According to the 26th US President Theodore Roosevelt, the best thing to do in a moment of decision is doing the right thing, the next best thing is doing the wrong thing, while the worst that anyone can do is doing nothing. This brings us to the IOT

Expectations are the Internet of Things (IoT) will be networking billions upon billions of things someday. Even if considering this hype, there is no ignoring the fact that IoT is already affecting management decisions worldwide. Business managers, at all levels, are receiving information that is more relevant as soon as they need it. Connected devices are making this possible, coupled with advances in collection of data and analytics. All that is affecting the decisions they are making, and business performance and operation is seeing a deep and lasting impact.

The broad range of nascent and mature technology available with the Internet of Things ranges from microscopic sensors called smart dust, to autonomous robots, to remote monitoring and RFID tags. Predictions from Gartner forecast that from the 6.4 billion connected IoT devices in 2016, the year 2020 will witness a jump to 21 billion devices worldwide. That means over the next five years, the number of internet-connected things will swell by three times.

Keeping this explosive growth in mind, Industry Week has conducted a study—the Industry Week Industrial Internet of Things Analytics Research Study. It gauges the usage of present and future state of IOT technology by US manufacturers. It also includes a special focus on data collection and analytics, as the IoT is more about the ability to collect, analyze, and use the massive amounts of data generated by the devices rather than about the devices themselves.

For their research, Industry Week has defined the Internet of Things as products and machines containing embedded electronics and sensors, with software for network connectivity that enables control and remote data collection. They also define analytics as the process of extracting insights from raw data, enabling better decision making.

The study reveals more than half the manufacturers reporting they are currently using the IoT technology for collecting machine data. Other companies say they are collecting the data from sensors embedded within their products—the percentage here is smaller, but significant at 44%. Both groups are using the data from machine and product for generating management reports and for performing root cause analysis as and when problems crop up.

According to the study, less than 25% of the manufacturers are using IoT for purposes that are more proactive. This includes improving business decision making through data mining or development of optimization models. All this indicates the presence of a potential source of competitive advantage as well as a huge opportunity.

Surprisingly, about one third of the manufacturing leaders said they did not have any strategy specifically geared towards the Internet of Things. However, most of these manufacturers reported their senior leaders are driving the organizations to be more data centric and analytical.