IoT is a buzzword these days but as companies began to embrace IoT, the main question remains: What benefits can IoT actually bring to businesses? Mike Mastroyiannis, Energybox COO, addresses this question by giving his thoughts and perspective. In addition, he also gives his analysis on how to accelerate the adoption of IoT for businesses.
What is IoT?
As the Internet of things (IoT) starts to become well known, we see huge technology companies such as Microsoft and Google making the move towards adding more hardware in their businesses. IoT, which is about systems and platforms, makes hardware becoming somewhat important again. So what is IoT? IoT is a huge network of systems consisting of devices, connectivity, data, and intelligent data analytics algorithms. IoT offers new value (e.g. efficiency, innovation, new business models, etc) to businesses to make life simpler, convenient or cheaper for consumers. As with social networks where billions of people are connected, IoT will also expand its connections to include various devices. As a result, IoT will eventually create the Internet of everything.
Applications of IoT
For business owners, the main question will be about “How my business can actually benefit from IoT?”. In general, IoT exists to make business operations more efficient, profitable and data-driven. Energybox as a leading IoT service provider enables businesses to improve their operational efficiency and reduce costs by using a self-developed platform, business intelligence software, and wireless sensor technology. For example, Energybox helped a leading self-storage provider in Hong Kong to discover some operational inefficiencies. Energybox discovered that the facility’s own humidity metering system was notably inaccurate, which means it did not meet industry compliance standards. In addition, Energybox helped the self-storage provider to always comply with the temperature requirement standard by providing them with notifications whenever there is temperature fluctuation. From the user’s point of view, this kind of IoT application makes sure their operations always perform at their best, which will result in more customers’ satisfaction.
Besides maintaining compliance, IoT also enables businesses to make better decisions through unprecedented data & insights. In the headquarters building of one of the largest corporate groups in Mauritius, Energybox is helping the company to track their building energy consumption at the equipment level. This doesn’t only result in an increase in energy efficiency usage, but also an improvement in equipment maintenance capability. For instance, Energybox detected performance reduction in the HVAC system at times in the afternoon, which might be an early indicator of problems in the system. In a particular HVAC, Energybox also found that it was still operating way after normal office hours repeatedly on weekdays. It is estimated that if the property manager had turned off the AC on time, they could have saved US$114 a month and could have extended the AC System service life by 23%. After learning from insights provided by Energybox solutions, notifications could be used to remind the property manager to turn off the AC on time or do an early maintenance check.
Another concern that a business owner usually has, apart from operation costs, is brand reputation. A restaurant, for example, has to put food safety as their top priority before thinking about profits because violating any food safety regulations could lead to a devastated brand reputation that a restaurant might not be able to recover from. This is aligned with what Energybox believes, we believe that food safety should always be assured. Energybox could help restaurant operators and owners to ensure food safety by providing them with the technology to monitor their operations. A well-known steakhouse chain in the US has been able to see the importance of adopting technology to ensure food safety by partnering with Energybox to develop SimplyCheck™, a cloud-based food safety monitoring solutions that are applicable in many areas of food & beverage industry. SimplyCheck™ helps restaurant chains to reduce the time needed in their daily food checking routine by almost 50% while also making sure that the data collected are accurate and saved securely. Restaurant owners and operators do not need to sacrifice food safety checking processes for time and staff availability.
The barriers for adoption of IoT
As there are so many benefits of IoT, some people may ask “Why this industry does not grow faster?” The issue is that there are a few enablers that are partly missing or to put it in another way, there are a few barriers to adoption. By using the Rogers’ Five Factors (Intrinsic Attributes of Innovation), we can understand better why IoT takes longer to be adopted.
First, Relative advantage which is about how much better is the product/service compared to the alternative that came before it. In general IoT systems are becoming more efficient and cost-effective than whatever came before them but customers excluding some of the early adopters lack ease of understanding of IoT solutions and benefits. Energybox is trying to tackle this by demonstrating better the customer benefits and by providing a subscription plan where business owners don’t have to purchase expensive hardware and make a huge sum of investment just to integrate IoT into their business. Besides the subscription plan, Energybox also enables data and valuable insights that any prior technology couldn’t bring before.
Next, Visibility & Trialability, which are about the degree to which the solution’s impact is visible and easy-to-try. It is not easy to see the impact of the IoT solutions from one customer to another. Energybox’s 3-month PSP (Pilot Success Program) could make the benefits of IoT more tangible and easier to understand for business owners.
Then, Simplicity which explains how easy it is to understand the IoT and see its benefits by observing someone else using it. Energybox’s platform has an intuitive user interface that would make it easier for users to navigate through insights provided by the Energybox platform.
Lastly, Compatibility which is about how easy is it to alter your behavior in order to use the product efficiently. IoT systems, in general, alter the behavior of users, which require the users to adapt at various degrees depending on the existing system. In contrast, Energybox’s platform is a one-stop-solution where a business owner can track operational efficiency, energy consumption, and food safety process of multiple sites under one platform.
Conclusion: What are the key success factors & solutions?
Based on the analysis of barriers and list of IoT applications explained previously, these are a couple of things that IoT providers could do to help to accelerate IoT adoption. First, IoT providers need to make more effort to create effective solutions and explain tangible benefits to customers including providing solid ROI to the end-users. Second, demonstrate the ease of use and ease of operations with great customer experience. Then, embrace various technologies to enable easy connectivity with other ecosystems. Lastly, ensure automatic system upgrades and predictive maintenance while also maintaining solid data security. Energybox delivers great solutions and benefits to our customers.
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