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How to unlock the potential of the Enterprise Internet of Things

In today's era of IoT-driven digital transformation, enterprise-grade IoT is pushing our digital transformation all the way to the edge.


Digital transformation is in full swing, which means it's time to implement our own transformation, learn from our early efforts, and keep getting better. Fail fast, Xi and continue our digital transformation.


Why does the term digital transformation seem familiar? It's because we've gone through several iterations, each of which feels more innovative than the last. Essentially, that's technology. First, we took a digital-first approach, then the birth of the internet, and we expanded from then on to mobile and cloud-based operations. Each time, this digital transformation leads the agenda for the achievement of business goals. Today, we have entered the era of digital transformation driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). The enterprise-grade Internet of Things is bringing our digital transformation all the way to the edge.


To meet modern needs, technology must adapt and evolve. Just look at how globalization and the pandemic have changed logistics operations. The global multimodal supply chain is extremely complex, and more of these links need to be digitized. Rather than simply tracking items via GPS, the supply chain requires a holistic, end-to-end, full visibility and agile approach that can adequately keep up with changing demand.


Similarly, in healthcare, digital transformation is booming, changing the way we treat patients, create new drugs, and develop treatment options. Remote patient monitoring alone has tripled since the start of the pandemic. Prior to 2020, only seven percent of patients experienced a virtual consultation. Just a year later, that number had risen to 32 percent. If patients find this new, accessible approach to health care desirable. In fact, a global survey revealed that 9 out of 10 respondents believe their virtual healthcare experience is as good or better than traditional in-person care.


Virtual components have also been introduced into decentralized clinical trials. One of the most difficult challenges in clinical trials is the transition from Phase I to Phase II, a large part of which is due to the need for clinical efficiency. Data collection and accuracy are critical in clinical trials, but human error is more susceptible when done manually. The current failure rate of 90% could be devastating for drug development that costs billions of dollars and takes years to market.


The need for digital transformation is not limited to the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. Agriculture is also a rapidly digitizing field, with an urgent need for technology-driven solutions to address labor and water shortages, agriculture-related agricultural challenges, and environmental impacts such as pests, disease, climate, and biodiversity, all of which adversely affect food availability in areas with growing populations.


In fleet management, the use cases are equally broad, impacting both the enterprise side and the manufacturing sector, where technological advancements can help alleviate challenges in safety, labor, efficiency, and rising fuel and insurance costs. The same is true of labor shortages and other challenges within the manufacturing industry, which have exacerbated the rise in material and equipment costs.


Demand drives technological advancements, which continue to drive the wave of digital transformation of enterprises. What matters is how these technologies converge and the resulting powerful digital future. IoT has matured, making IoT adoption easier through more affordable, diverse hardware and connectivity, decentralized computing via the cloud, and a combination of a range of IoT providers, all of which together create a global ecosystem that drives us forward.


Today, we are on the precipice of making great strides in 5G and low-power wide-area (LPWA) network connectivity, edge computing capabilities, and powerful algorithms that drive artificial intelligence (AI) and machine Xi. But without digitalization and data and the drive to connect every edge device, the AIoT era in which AI meets the Internet of Things would not be possible.


The role of the Internet of Things in the enterprise


When these technologies converge, digital transformation undoubtedly takes on new meanings. So, how can enterprises effectively leverage the power of technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and 5G for digital transformation?


1) Solutions: A great example of how digital solutions in manufacturing can get started and succeed. Often, there are so many options for digital solutions to choose from that it can be difficult to know where to start and how. Pilot programs may never launch due to complexity, inability to prove ROI, or lack of knowledge on how to integrate or migrate with legacy systems. Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, which are a digital approach to machine monitoring and data acquisition, are very common in industrial manufacturing.


These systems are very effective and were an important part of the last digital transformation in the industrial sector. Ditching these systems can cause upheaval and be quite costly, so choosing a technology that can build on the success of SCADA and integrate and position it for future technology adoption is ideal. IoT can help by pairing sensor-enabled devices with cellular connectivity that can systematically build on previous generation investments. Additional capabilities from edge computing, 5G, and artificial intelligence can power more advanced digital solutions that will provide a good ROI in the future. The Internet of Things is a key driver connecting these two digital transformation eras.


2) Business Connectivity: Technological advancements are innate, and so are the adaptations that come with them. Digital transformation in retail is an interesting use case, with many processes in the retail sector leveraging digital solutions. The front desk of the store needs to communicate with the back office of the store about the products and find out if the products are in stock or if not, how quickly they can get to their final location. Point-of-sale systems are very common and have become more diverse, and online ordering for curbside pickup has been growing steadily.


As digital solutions expand within retailers, greater bandwidth is required, and the primary connection point for brick-and-mortar stores is often wireless solutions. But as these digital solutions evolve, connectivity becomes even more important, and sometimes bandwidth can be strained or unplanned downtime can put these solutions in a bind. If a wireless solution fails, many retailers now leverage 5G as a failover connection.


Not only does this work seamlessly with existing solutions, but it also builds agility to help organizations move toward full cellular connectivity, which many retailers choose as their primary way to support their expanding digital solutions. IoT is important for bringing digital solutions together through connectivity, and business connectivity is a fast-growing area in enterprise IoT.


3) Simplification to reduce complexity: New technologies can be very complex. As mentioned in the first two practical tips, IoT is the engine of digital transformation because it touches everything. Simply put, IoT is a set of technologies that connect devices through some form of networking, delivering data to applications that will be analyzed, providing insights to end users and helping to make faster and better business decisions. However, this includes a very wide range of technologies, which can certainly create complexity. Devices can be purchased, developed, and white-labeled, connections can come in many forms, from hundreds of network providers, computing needs to transfer data at the right time and with the right data, devices need to be certified, configured, and shipped, and so on.


There are many different types of providers involved in these areas, and businesses may find that they are dealing with ten or more providers to deliver a single end use case or application, which can be difficult and costly to manage. The more enterprises can capture the different elements of the ecosystem from a single source, the easier it will be to harness the power and capabilities of the Internet of Things, whether from a build, deploy, manage, or scale perspective.


It's a truly exciting time for technology, and this IoT-driven digital transformation is unlike any "strategic era" we've seen before, and it's a bold statement. But when the really high demand for digital solutions is combined with this newer, robust technology, it creates an enhanced environment for innovation that will have an impact for decades to come.


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