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Data Insight: Using IoT for intelligent and quick decision-making

September 09, 2015
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The internet of things (IoT) is fast gaining popularity across countries and industries as a means to leverage emerging mobility solutions, improve productivity and reduce costs. According to Machine Research, a leading global advisory group on machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT, the global market for IoT in 2020 will be worth $373 billion in revenues, of which around $194 billion will be contributed by hardware and $179 billion will come from software. Interestingly, India will account for $10 billion-$12 billion of the total global IoT revenue. In India, IoT deployments are likely to be led by the government’s Smart Cities initiative, the travel industry, and the transport sector, which is using IoT for effective tracking of goods and people, and for fleet and supply chain management.

With growing communication and data collection abilities through GPS, cloud computing, M2M and mobility devices, a huge amount of data is available with companies in the transport and logistics industry. Companies are increasingly using smart devices to capture and share data, and are adopting IoT solutions to correlate the available data and interpret it intelligently for quick decision-making. For example, for the majority of companies, transport management entails the tracking and monitoring of goods being transported through multimodal means of transport, be it railways, ships or airways. It is here that IoT-led supply chain management solutions can help transporters undertake real-time tracking and load management data analysis of goods on the move. Further, integrated logistics systems built using real-time traffic data can help companies optimise routes and manpower, thereby leading to significant time and cost savings. IoT solutions help players take actionable decisions based on the availability of machine and manpower, and ensure fleet optimisation and judicious workforce management. In fact, a study by Cisco reveals that 99.4 per cent of physical objects in the world are still unconnected. This represents a huge business opportunity in the IoT space. Cisco underlines the fact that the knowledge created by connecting objects and allowing them to communicate with each other could generate a “value” of £10 trillion (from higher revenues and lower costs) over the next decade. Around a third of this activity is expected to be within the supply chain sector, where visibility, tracking and data capture are essential for achieving operational effectiveness. Undoubtedly, going forward, IoT will help the transport industry gain a unified view of its business assets, including supply chain management, and enable it to share real-time information with various stakeholders, including customers, suppliers and partners, leading to a more coordinated and effective approach to various functions linked to freight forwarding.

In addition to effective supply chain management, IoT also has huge potential for helping the transport industry ensure the availability of the right product at the right time. For example, with devices connected through IoT, managers can put an effective warehouse and yard management system in place. With mobile devices tracking inventory and vehicles, organisations can fast-track the process of sharing details regarding the inventory available across warehouses or points of distribution, thereby ensuring faster availability of products across a region.

Challenges and the way forward

According to Nasscom, India is projected to become the largest consumer of IoT devices in South Asia by 2020. However, despite the encouraging growth of IoT devices in the country, issues regarding network security involving billions of devices and the lack of support for software applications for IoT devices pose major challenges in the large-scale adoption of IoT.

IoT data includes, but is not limited to, sensor data, surveillance data and data collected from web logs. Managers have the difficult task of identifying the right type of technology for the collection and storage of huge amounts of data through various channels. With a large number of stakeholders being dependent on the interpretation of the available data, it is equally important for organisations to choose the right technology to ensure speedy and safe distribution of the available data. Further, there are issues related to the choice of software to interpret the collected data, in order to arrive at useful insights that would facilitate intelligent decision-making by the management.

The challenges notwithstanding, industries in India as well as across the world are increasingly looking to leverage IoT to unlock the real value of the data available with them.

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