Artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) offer tremendous potential for business transformation. Leaders looking to make the most of the opportunities inherent in these linked technologies need to identify specific business goals – then chart out how to realize those goals using the surfeit of data that IoT devices produce and AI analyses.
The fact is, most firms are yet to fully engage with transformative technologies. Only 3 percent of companies say they have full AI deployments. Enterprise IoT is a little more mature, and is extensively deployed at 14 percent of companies.
AI is perfectly suited to do deep dives and extract insights that would otherwise be impractical to obtain without extensive manual labour. Around the globe, 5 billion (and counting) devices support AI agents such as Alexa and Siri. Such agents have gained traction not just because they are conveniently deployed on smartphones and consumer electronics, but also because they have extensive access to an entire ecosystem of data.
The point is that today’s smartphone agents aren’t just front ends for search engines. They make educated judgments based on user behaviour and personal contact data, and they can quickly mine a user’s licensed content to fulfill complex and even fuzzy requests. A technical question comes as how could AI better serve customers if it understands not just their purchase histories, but also the noise levels and air quality in the environments they inhabit.
Don’t back down from the challenge of successfully managing the sheer volume of data available through IoT solutions. Sixty percent of survey respondents don’t analyze even one-tenth of their IoT data in real time. But digging deeper, Forbes Insights found that higher rates of real-time data analysis correlated with higher satisfaction and greater maturity.
Be Specific About Productivity
Without clear-cut goals, technology can’t be counted on to magically create productivity gains. Map out where you feel your productivity needs a boost, be it in machine-to-machine communications or in complex decision-making processes where workers could benefit from an AI assistant. Then work to those objectives.
The Forbes Insights survey, indicated that 40 percent of corporate leaders consider increased productivity a potential AI benefit, outpacing the next-most-popular benefit by more than 10 percentage points. Similarly, increased productivity was the second most frequently cited objective for enterprise IoT deployment. Although encouraging, many of those aspirations won’t be met unless they’re paired with specific productivity targets.
If your gut tells you that your organization may be overextending itself with too many parallel IoT and AI initiatives, trust that impulse and prioritize. Although AI is a complementary technology to IoT, the survey found that companies with extensive IoT deployments are the least likely to implement AI as part of their IoT projects. In fact, the further along a company’s IoT deployment, the less AI plays a role. This could indicate resource limitations, and that companies are wisely choosing to tackle large-scale digital transformation projects carefully instead of over-committing and outracing their abilities to implement.
Above all, if your IoT efforts appear to be floundering, the survey shows it may be due to the lack of a focused business goal. Only 36 percent of business leaders named said a top IoT objective was to unlock new revenue sources, and just 34 percent said they planned to use the IoT to deliver personalized experiences. Although IoT’s first wave was mostly driven by stories about maintenance and efficiency, the potential reaches much further. Tomorrow’s IoT leaders will be those who recognize the potential of all that rich, real-time data to change customer perceptions.