Turning IoT into a competitive advantage

  • An IoT deployment can boost competitiveness, but it’s about more than just connecting devices to the Internet.

  • A focus on using IoT to create new business models or revenue streams can deliver real value.

  • Profiting from changing business conditions while mitigating risk requires expertise and an ecosystem of IoT partners.

For most businesses, it’s not whether to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, but how best to use them. What makes IoT a competitive advantage? Ask these three questions to find out.

1. How can we deliver more value with IoT?

Companies used to deploy IoT solutions for one of two reasons: They were looking to either improve efficiency or save cost. With advances in information and communications technology, we can now look at IoT services to add strategic value. IoT can increase customer satisfaction and enable new business models or revenue streams.

For example, water scarcity is intensifying worldwide. Smart city solutions using IoT and acoustic technology can detect leaks in water mains. The city can minimize the damage and water loss caused by leaking pipes. As this shows, even complex legacy systems need not be a barrier to IoT success.

2. Will our IoT plans generate a real return? 

IoT can help you cope with, and profit from, changing business conditions. With your industry expertise and customer know-how, you can identify which connections will drive maximum value for your business. An expert solution provider can then help you design, test, and build IoT solutions that use this insight.

In the logistics sector, for example, overcapacity is an ongoing challenge as global trade remains muted. Using connected devices to efficiently track shipments can give transport providers a competitive edge. In a 2014 global survey of shippers by EyeForTransport Reports and AT&T, 80 percent expected to see a return on new IoT deployments within two years.

3. What security risks do our IoT deployments bring, and how will we mitigate them?

IoT can introduce new security risks. Each connected device is another device that needs protecting. Connected devices can add to the complexity of cybersecurity and the volume of data we must guard. Plus, IoT devices can provide hackers with a means to threaten critical systems—factory operations, supply chains, even cars.

The answer, for the automotive sector and other industries, is to build multiple layers of security controls. These security controls need to surround IoT devices and their connecting networks. In the connected car, this will mean separating critical safety systems and engine control units from infotainment and tethered device connections. This will make it impossible for a criminal to use infotainment or tethered device connections to unlock the car’s ignition or remotely take over brakes or steering.

Focusing on IoT as a strategic advantage

IoT is not without technical and security issues. The challenge is in addressing them in a cost effective and practical manner. The strategic value that IoT delivers can far outweigh those potential hindrances. An experienced solution provider and an IoT ecosystem that delivers value and security will make the effort worthwhile.

Sandy Verma Senior Director of Asia Pacific for Internet of Things Solutions AT&T About Sandy