Internet of Things: Top 6 steps to automate your business processes

by Youssef Kabbani, Senior Strategy Manager – Internet of Things, Telus.        

Businesses in any industry can improve their productivity by connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT solutions are changing the volume, variety and velocity of information businesses can collect and act upon. As companies today discuss digital transformation strategies, IoT solutions are being increasingly recognized as a fundamental component of a successful transition. Business process automation has the potential to generate a quick and significant return on investment. Is your business ready?

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you plan the automation of your business.

Identify potential sectors
Before investing in IoT, it is important to identify which business processes offer the greatest potential. An extensive review of these processes, including discussions with the various departments of the business, will provide answers to key questions:

  • Which processes can be automated?
  • Which offer the greatest potential returns on investment?
  • What data can be collected and analyzed?
  • Which employees are best qualified to analyze this data?
  • What information can be gleaned from analyzing this data?
  • Can this information be used to generate new sources of revenue?
  • Can this information be used to transform the company’s business model?

Process automation via IoT is within the reach of all businesses, regardless of size. Large organizations have well-defined, documented processes, not to mention larger budgets. However, they are less flexible than small businesses, which can implement loT projects more readily to increase their competitive advantage.

Create a pilot project
Once the processes with the most potential have been identified, it is time to create a pilot project. Start with a simple, concrete solution, such as a remote access system or data collection. This will allow you to evaluate the potential of IoT, measure the real added value of the solution implemented, and then test the technology. Launch gradually learn from any errors, and refine your processes to adapt to the specific challenges. This will allow you to get to know and understand the benefits of loT without exposing your business to undue risks. At present, according to IDC Canada, most businesses are developing relatively simple IoT projects such as remote sensing or beacon technology.

Remain open to opportunities for change
IoT can radically transform a business. Here are a few examples of some transformational projects:
Low-cost automation of simple processes
Transmission in real time of promotional offers via push message to customers in a given area, for example, in the food court at a shopping mall
Remote control of equipment, such as heating and irrigation systems
Implementation of dynamic pricing programs based on fluctuations in supply and demand or consumer trends (e.g. the Über model)
Creation of new, more profitable business models, such as pay-per-use or subscription software licences
According to a recent survey on IoT conducted by IDC Canada, transformational projects are more common in large enterprises. But this does not mean that SMBs cannot innovate and be transformed by IoT.

Adjust compliance, governance and confidentiality policies
The Internet of Things, and the collection, retention and use of data in particular, raise legal issues specific to each country where the business operates. You must abide by the existing laws and compliance rules applicable to your industry. You might even go beyond the call of duty in order to exceed customer expectations. Your compliance, governance and confidentiality policies must also be adapted to the new parameters introduced by your IoT projects.

Integrate security into architecture and operations
IoT solutions can present specific security issues, especially given the nature of endpoints. These points represent the many devices communicating outside your network, and may include data captors or sensors. These devices use low-energy protocol (ZigBee, Z‑Wave or Bluetooth Low Energy) and their lower processing speeds make them less secure. Since IoT networks often connect different types of devices, which are accessed by multiple users, it is not possible to adopt a single control method to guarantee the security of the network and the devices. Therefore, the best approach is to implement a multi-layered solution that protects your data, communications and access privileges.

Analyze Big Data
IoT enables your business to gather vast amounts of information relating to the management of your inventory or the habits of your customers. However, if this Big Data is not analyzed closely, it serves little value and doesn’t generate the expected return on investment. It is therefore essential to use tools to process and harness the information gathered.

Start reaping the benefits of IoT for your business by following these six steps. With Cisco predicting 50 billion connected devices globally by 2020, it is inevitably the way of the future. . .