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Hitachi Solutions
October 24, 2017  •  By Jonathan Scott

The smart way to invest in the IoT

Fresh from the IoT Solutions World Congress, Jonathan Scott and Kyle Hill discuss how your business can invest intelligently in the IoT.

The IoT Solutions World Congress calls itself an event where “technology meets business” — and from our recent experience there, that couldn’t be closer to the truth.

The wealth of solutions we saw at the event was truly outstanding — everything from devices to telemetry, to predictive modelling — showing just how far the IoT has come in a very short space of time. We attended with our partner Microsoft, exhibiting our IoT Predictive Service Hub: a complete business enabling solution that offers our customers a way to use the IoT to achieve tangible business outcomes.

How to choose the solution that’s right for your business

With so many technologies on show — any of which could have a positive impact on your business — it got us thinking: how can businesses choose which IoT technology to invest in?

To answer that, let’s start by looking at the rise of service-based models. Instead of searching for people to buy their equipment or technology, many organisations are exploring ‘as-a-service’ offerings. Rolls-Royce, for example, no longer only sells engines — its model is increasingly based around buying a capability/functionality from it as a supplier. The result: you can now buy service hours from Rolls-Royce, rather than a product. This is a key shift in the business model — and one that’s enabled by an intelligent use of the IoT.

This example leads us towards our key message for choosing the right IoT technologies for your business. It’s simply this — keep at the front of your mind the question: how can I derive true business value from the IoT?

In the end, it doesn’t matter how elegant your IoT solution is, or how pretty your dashboard looks. Unless you can tie these to providing a business benefit, it’s a case of ‘well, so what?’

Using the IoT to derive real business value

Predictive modelling and Edge Computing provide examples of the kind of value we’re talking about and were technologies that were discussed at length during the conference.

Predictive modelling uses machine learning models to analyse patterns in IoT data and give insight. Prescriptive analytics then provides a best course of action in any given situation, which can even shut down devices before they fail, reducing expensive repairs.

This technology can be used alongside Edge Computing, driving even greater value by allowing you to run predictive modelling locally, ‘offline’ and with lower latency.

Plus, we know from working in partnership with Microsoft that Edge Computing brings the capabilities of the IoT Cloud closer to devices, offering a host of new capabilities.

For instance, think about a situation where you need real-time responses (device-side). You can’t wait for the data to go all the way into the cloud, complete data processing and feed back with latency — the process simply takes too long. But with Edge Computing, you take elements of the cloud and bring these closer to what’s known as the ‘edge’ of the cloud.

Because of this agility, you’ll see Edge Computing becoming increasingly important. For example, you can now run Azure Stack locally with machine-learning models, giving you real-time insights and outputs on edge devices. Essentially, your IoT devices connect first into the edge processing unit and then into the wider internet.

As a result, your IoT reach is widened, and your use of the IoT becomes applicable in more business scenarios thanks to lower latency and “offline” capability.

In a nutshell

With technology such as predictive modelling and Edge Computing in mind, it’s clear that getting the most out of the IoT means using it intelligently, to help you determine the best course of action for your business.

But let’s be more concrete in our advice. Here are our four top tips for what to keep in mind when you’re looking for an IoT solution.

  1. Start with the business case.

Have clear objectives and know what success looks like, so you can track your ROI.

  1. Don’t try to do everything at once.

Start by doing just one thing well — use one IoT technology to the best of its ability — and build on this as you go along.

  1. Aim to make your organisation more automated and intelligent.

Predictive algorithms and automation can really reduce the strain on your organisation’s back office, and help to streamline your operations. Plus, these algorithms ensure your devices are operating efficiently.

  1. Consider scalability.

IoT solutions can be the backbone of businesses of any size, from very simple one-man shows to global enterprises. What’s important is that your solution can scale with your business.

How we can help

This brings us neatly back to our solution, the IoT Predictive Service Hub.

The IoT Predictive Service Hub is a unique solution because it can combine contextual business data from Dynamics 365 (previously CRM and AX), and use that data in predictive models running in Azure. This helps you make a more contextual and informed decision about what sort of action, if any, you should take.

The automation and intelligence of the solution can often interact with devices and solve a problem before a customer is even aware of it. This means reduced equipment downtime, increased productive uptime, reduced maintenance costs, increased asset lifespan, improved worker safety and even new revenue streams.

At its core, it’s about investing in improved business outcomes. And it exemplifies what it means to make a smart investment in the IoT. It provides a concrete business benefit and answers the question: ‘well, so what?’

It’s just one example of how we help our customers get more value from their solutions. By combining the best Microsoft solutions with other business units, we create more business value for you — providing an end-to-end service.

You can find out more about it, and decide — based on our tips — if it’s the IoT solution your business needs, by visiting this page.

Jonathan Scott
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