IoT is the Key to Successful Digital Transformation
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IoT is the Key to Successful Digital Transformation

By Phil Skipper, Head of Business Development and Strategy, IoT, Vodafone Business, Vodafone Group Plc [LON: VOD]

Phil Skipper, Head of Business Development and Strategy, IoT, Vodafone Business, Vodafone Group Plc [LON: VOD]

The digital world of business is faster, more demanding and less forgiving. To succeed, companies must master the increasingly complex interplay between design, development, supply chain, manufacturing distribution and service and ultimately create a truly winning customer experience. In this digital environment, success can no longer be guaranteed by simply having a great product; it needs to be constantly refreshed, upgraded and refined at an accelerated rate and this is where digital transformation really comes into its own.

Digital transformation helps automate existing processes but more importantly creates a watershed for business to re-assess, and redesign the way they operate. This opportunity does not come often and it’s a real chance to step back and decide what sort of business you want to be in the future and how you can structure your digital transformation to help deliver solutions and products faster, quicker and, with less risk.

IoT is a natural part of this digitalisation process. From new connected products, automated supply chain and logistics, to manufacture and customer services, IoT provides the back bone for the digital business as well as offers a rich stream of data on which processes and products can evolve in line with market demand.

Harnessing the Power of Data

Access to data on demand enables organisations to adapt at a faster speed and the Internet IoT is the ultimate gateway to the source of all things data. According to the latest Vodafone IoT Barometer, 84 percent of adopters of the technology describe their IoT projects as ‘mission critical’ to success, and 72percent say digital transformation would be impossible without IoT. Fortunately, new technology such as narrow band low power networks (NB-IoT and LTE-M) and 5G open up more opportunities for IoT to be deployed at scale, enabling it to be a true driver of digital transformation for businesses.

Becoming truly data-led is the key to success in digital transformation: IoT has the ability to measure and record highly valuable data sets from a variety of devices and systems across a business’s network, which can directly feed analytics models powered by AI. Therefore, the combined rise of IoT, cloud computing and the emergence of AI creates an environment for the secure and, rapid processing of large amounts of data. Resulting insights can then be used for predictive maintenance, scaling of infrastructure or to better understand the customer interaction.

The scope for IoT increases even further with the introduction of 5G. The combination of low latency, high bandwidth and quality of service enables IoT networks to become control networks for the autonomous machines of the future, such as remotely controlled cranes or autonomous vehicles. The combination of AI, mobile edge, cloud and IoT further enables the next step in digitalisation, as it moves from data-driven processes to real-time control.

A Future-Proofed Business

IoT provides greater visibility and control over how a business operates and is essential for those that want to digitally transform. By leveraging it, businesses can gain a clearer perspective on performance and can control outputs, quality and levels of service using IoT. Additionally, the insights gained from analysing data can help make informed decisions that are critical to the organisation and, stimulate new creative approaches to problem-solving.

One good example is usage-based insurance. Without IoT, it would be impossible for customers to have access to insurance policies tailored to their individual profile and driving habits. By making this possible, IoT creates a new and highly valuable segment for the insurance company.

But that’s not the end of the story, because the output of this personalisation is data and this data can revolutionise the way insurance companies interact with their customers. So not only do they gather millions of miles of driver data that can be used anonymously to empower their internal risk processes, but they can also use the same information to improve their response to incidents and streamline the end-to-end claims process. This enhances the customer satisfaction, drives down churn and, allows the insurance company to engage much more positively with their customers.

This works not only for insurance companies but across multiple industries worldwide, from massive multinationals to the smallest companies. IoT is not just a big company initiative, it can support the digitalisation of business large and small to improve efficiency, create new services and ultimately to win and retain customers.

Whilst some businesses are born digital, some have further to go by upgrading legacy systems and infrastructure that has been in place for years, but ultimately, to survive in the digital economy, every business will need to undertake a digital transformation journey that will reshape them: as a crucial change agent, the Internet of Things is effectively enabling companies to do things differently.

As IoT matures, more and more businesses are starting to use it to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in their operations and develop entirely new ideas and revenue streams. Furthermore, when deployed to its full effect, combined with mobile edge, AI and analytics, IoT can deliver revolutionary benefits for businesses looking to embrace the digital world.

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