The explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the only man to ever have circumnavigated the world on its polar axis using only surface transport, said, “To be honest that expedition was what I would call the last opportunity for proper exploring.” It was uncharted and they were mapping it for the first time ever—it was genuine exploration. “Today that type of exploring has become impossible, owing to polar-orbiting satellites which make every corner of the world map-able, so nowadays, you get adventurers, not explorers.”
And the same could be said now the Internet is 30 years old. It is a familiar utility, and fully charted for most people and businesses. They depend on it and now think only of the tech innovation (exploration) that will bring faster speeds, more reliable connections and whizzy apps. This legacy thinking could be dangerous, perpetuating a drift to commoditisation and a plateauing business performance that reduces business plans to ‘just adventures’.
However it is still possible for us all to be ‘explorers’, with no map, and an uncharted landscape. Very few of us have started out – while those who have, are already reaping the benefits.
The journey I am referring to simply involves thinking differently about the Internet. In this case, start thinking with an “Internet of Things” (IoT) mindset.
It is an easy and simple play, nothing on the scale of Sir Ranulph Fiennes. This mindset, in my opinion, will involve an awareness of three business ‘blocks’, comprising of a device generating data, data being transmitted, and then an analysis for ROI (return on investment) or productivity outcome. The three blocks are therefore, devices, connections and analytics, with data implicitly at the core of each block. As straightforward as that sounds, it is true to say IoT is still not featuring in most of the ‘internet conversations’ for many legacy businesses. IoT has evolved from the earlier M2M (machine to machine) world due to better networks, better devices and better analytics. Consequently and not surprisingly, the opportunities are now more accessible and proliferating rapidly.
IoT could be as small as your smart meters at home, or as big as a whole smart city that encompasses a number of IoT applications—think of connected traffic signals that monitor utility use, traffic flow and system failure, digital parking spaces that signal when they are empty, or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied. Industries have also been revolutionised by the connected world, with connected sensors for everything from tracking parts to monitoring crops.
People winning in the IoT are people who have an awareness of the full three blocks, not just their ‘normal Internet’ working in a single block. More importantly, they begin solving a customer requirement by asking “why?”, as opposed to the usual “what do you want?”.
By starting with asking why, the approach changes. This immediately sets the conversation in the direction to cover the three blocks. ‘How’ will be the logical next question, giving them a full picture to robustly address getting a much better answer to the final question: ”What does the customer need?”. Consequently, the whole conversation now has pointers to the full picture of the three IoT business blocks and is an easy progression to match up and start engaging or assisting customers with two, or even the full three blocks of devices, connections, and analytics.
For example, the Legacy Business Customer who wants 100MB data will have no difficulty in getting his requirement satisfied by any number of people who can deliver 100MB, and will often end up being none the wiser. Whereas the Enlightened Business Customer who was asked ‘Why he wanted 100MB data?’ and answered by describing a network of bicycles collecting multiple data points on each journey, will very quickly and automatically expand the use case which identifies the how the solution is being constructed. The bicycles might be being built in a different region than their location of use, with variable journeys and data that would impact billing. In knowing this, there is now a full understanding of what the Enlightened Customer actually needs and an IoT journey has been initiated.
Harvey Mackay, author and columnist said, “Time is free, but priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” Get started with IoT today. You don’t have to change your business tomorrow, but you can easily set yourself up for success. There is still space on the train and it hasn’t left the station yet, hop on board. Or, you can join our ecosystem, and we will make the journey easier for you.