By Abhiseka Mohapatra
Business Analyst Retail & CPG Business Consultant
The Internet of Things is making our lives better with each passing days,it's network of physical objects that can sense and interact with each other while collecting and exchanging data. Its availability, scalability, and affordability are making it so that the Internet of People is becoming the Internet of not just people, but also the Internet of Things.
The first industrial revolution happened, a couple of hundred years ago, what it did was facilitate production using water and steam power. The second industrial revolution – what it did is then introduce mass production with the help of electric power, which was then followed by the third industrial revolution – the digital revolution, where electronics and IT further automated production processes. And now we're just getting started with what you might cool the fourth version of the industry in which digital and physical systems and things are combined for even more productivity. The key difference this time, or the improvement, this time, is that this higher level of productivity is based on data insights and knowledge.
Let's imagine what a "normal" day would look like in a world where everything is truly connected,I would rather say IoTiesd. So you get up in the morning, and your smart bracelet senses your sleep cycles and it may even know the most opportune moment to gracefully wake me up by gently vibrating and blinking a light. And when that happens, my bracelet sends a message to other things in my home. And pretty soon, a chain of events starts to occur. My bedside lamp might turn on, my thermostat adjusts the temperature of the room. Perhaps my coffee machine starts up. And then let's say I start making breakfast and I take the last egg /breakfast item out of the smart – fridge/ smart - cupboard. Well, the fridge / grocery cupboard is aware and it puts eggs on my smartphone shopping list or it simply adds it to my next delivery of groceries.
Also, you can get a notification that your way to office is building up traffic and you need to start early. So it suggests you to leave 30 minutes early to avoid a delay for a meeting scheduled in your personal calendar. And then when you do leave the house, the sensors adjusts the temperature downward as it knows that no one else is in the house anymore and also switch offs all electric equipment thereby save unnecessary power consumption . All these things that are already improving your life, well, they start improving your life, even more, when they're all connected. And what this does is it eliminates the need for yours to keep track of reoccurring activities. You can instead focus on more important things in life.
From a business perspective, when everything is connected and they are enabled with machine learning, all of a sudden we're going to need to reevaluate who has access to which parts of an experience, both the physical and the digital side. Let’s discuss from retail industry point of view:-
So using a smart fridge as an example, if the fridge can all of a sudden measure which items it has and which it does not have, it can then share this data in a safe way with authorized third parties. And what this can do is create new business models for services that can provide you with automated service, based on allowing your connected things to talk to their connected things.
Retailers can start creating their Internet of Things strategy by connecting the principal data-gathering hub – the POS system– to other devices, such as digital signs, mobile devices, eCommerce site and social media. By doing this, they can enable a more mobile and knowledgeable workforce who can provide better service.
Retailers who are more advanced in implementing their Internet of Things strategy are using it to drive smarter store operations. Connecting and optimizing store assets, streamlining processes, improving store inventory tracking, and centralizing store operations can lead to significant savings in operating costs.
By using technologies that enable the Internet of Things such as sensors, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth beacons, retailers can bring the information-rich online experience into physical stores to transform consumers’ shopping experiences – the ultimate prize the Internet of Things brings to retailers.
So what's becoming clear is that all of this connectivity can really enable a much tighter relationship between retailers and their customers, if their customers are interested. And if you understand what a customer might expect or want, given the opportunities provided by this kind of new technology, well then business models may start to change from being more product-centric to more service-centric in true sense,hence turning IoT as Internet of GOOD Things.
Some more Real time examples on use of IoT by retailer includes:
- Retailing giant Walmart heavily uses big data and IoT for consumer insights and store-level merchandising. The company mines social media trends to showcase types of products that are rising in popularity, and local weather data is compared against historical sales data to boost grocery sales.
- Nordstrom tracks pins on Pinterest to see what products are trending and uses that on signs in-store to show shoppers what interests their peers.
- Disney has RFID-enabled MagicBand wristbands that provide theme park access, entry access for guest hotel rooms, and cash and card-free payment food and merchandise.All that activity is also tracked data that helps build a better picture of how guests use Disney services.
- Online retailing giant Amazon is once again disrupting bricks and mortar retailing with the Dash Button, a WiFi enabled device that is mapped to specific consumer packaged goods products like laundry detergent. Stuck in a washing machine, all a consumer needs to do when the current supply is running low is tap the button and that generates an order, transaction, and delivery of a fresh supply of detergent.
About the Author:
Abhiseka Mohapatra is a Retail & Consumer Goods Domain Business Analyst with Tech Mahindra