The Internet of Things. It might sound like a vague term, but how else could you describe technology that connects almost everything?
At its simplest, that’s what the IoT is all about – using the internet to link all the devices and technology we use every day, and make our lives easier. In the media you’ll most likely see domestic examples, like controlling your heating via your smartphone, or fridges that monitor what’s in them and automatically order groceries from the supermarket. But for businesses, the Internet of Things has vast potential – so much so, it could be a real game-changer.
Here are a couple of examples: if a certain machine on a manufacturing production line is underperforming, it could alert both the operators and its maker that it’s in need of maintenance; and for businesses using lean manufacturing techniques, their Vendor Managed Inventories could automatically trigger replenishment to make sure of the perfect level of inventory at all times.
But these are just the start. Because the Internet of Things will offer insights into consumers, their shopping habits and what they need, it means a product never actually ‘leaves’ the manufacturer; they can keep track of it, advise customers and offer extra services. The opportunities are wide-ranging.
For example, data from monitoring consumables means manufacturers can automatically re-supply (as HP already do with certain domestic printer models); while reliable, accurate and timely data on product usage enables new sales models based on rental or leasing rather than purchase (like the ‘power by the hour’ model Rolls-Royce have for aero engines).
As you can see, it’s data that’s the key. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020 40% of all data will be machine-generated from up to 50 billion devices. Now that’s big data. And that’s where ERP systems will play a vital role.
Systems such as Infor’s, designed to integrate data and processes, will now be able to go a big step further, powered by these vast amounts of data. Having the right system in place will be essential for connecting the unstructured data from devices with the structured data from the business. That system will need to process, analyse and display all this data in real time – so flexibility will also be crucial.
In essence, the Internet of Things means ERP systems will be more event-driven and smarter. But they’ll do what they’ve always done, and more: connecting people, processes, data and products in an intelligent way, enabling new business models and better decision-making.
So should you be worried about the Internet of Things? A recent survey carried out by Infor found that 28% of businesses put it in their top three priorities right now, citing improved productivity, better insight and better use of equipment as the main advantages. But in the same survey, 43% of respondents had yet to recognise its potential benefits. If you’re in that group, we think it’s time you talked to an expert – such as the team here at Inforlogic, on 01606 720499.
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