Cognizant: how to nurture true value from IoT initiatives
One of the biggest expectations we have of digital transformation is the hope that it will bring fresh impetus, particularly for the industrial sectors. Internet of Things (IoT) or Industrial internet of things (IIoT) is the pillar on which these hopes are built.
, IoT spending will rise by 12.6 per cent worldwide over the next few years. The report also highlights that in 2020 alone, US$745 billion will be spent on IoT solutions. There may be big expectations and significant investment ahead, but how can companies ensure their business will benefit from the potential of full-scale digitisation?
The answer becomes apparent when looking at existing IoT initiatives and talking to companies from different sectors. Valuable contributions from IoT initiatives depend much less on the technology itself, but rather on setting the right course from the outset in line with business goals.
Sustainable investments are necessary for a comprehensive transformation programme, including the redesign of business processes. IoT should ultimately be viewed as an ever-present ingredient in an organisation’s architecture that facilitates operational outcomes. For example, eliminating or reducing equipment downtime, instantly connecting the right experts to tackle issues or capitalise on new business opportunities, improving efficiency or solving quality issues, and instantly protecting the health and safety of operators, drivers, passengers and users based on warning signals from equipment or products.
Bringing it back to basics
Implementing an effective IoT strategy does not need to prove a significant challenge for businesses, especially when it is linked to the core of a company’s operations and primary transformation objectives.
To ensure this is the case, there is a five-step approach for delivering a faster path to IoT value.
1. Ask the right questions
A good place to start is by identifying which of the possible outcomes will create real value for the business and its customers. In doing so, the key questions that need to be asked and answered are:
· Is the outcome tied to critical business process metrics such as order management, quality management and digital prescriptive maintenance, all of which are essential for the whole operation?
· Is the outcome tied to redesigning strategic aspects of the customer experience? This could be after a product has been produced, sold, installed, used, updated, maintained, repaired, or replaced.
· Is the outcome tied to removing friction from every customer interaction with the brand and set to provide the next-best action for them? This usually involves offerings based on accurate predictions derived from historical data, snapshots of a customer's current situation and static customer data. Together, these maximise customer lifetime value and increase the likelihood of customer advocacy, adoption, growth, and retention.
2. Take a customer-first approach
Once critical outcomes are identified, the next step is to apply a customer- or user-centric approach and transform one process at a time. Think of the countless business benefits that could be accrued if an organisation could deliver a flawless process from start to finish – no matter how many systems, touchpoints, channels, data sources, integrations or business, product or geographic variations are encountered.
3. Action insights
For each process, businesses need to identify the existing IoT signals that can turn sensor data-triggered insights into specific actions or decisions. Look at operational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which can inform this exercise, such as productivity, quality, cost, cycle time, mean time between failure (MTBF), mean time to repair (MTTR), overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and net promoter score (NPS).
4. Increase time to value with a user-friendly interface
Ensure the business team – in partnership with its IT partners – can use a friendly, no-code, drag-and-drop interface to co-design, connect, and co-create each new IoT process. Regardless of the eventual outcome, business changes that take too long to produce value are deemed failures. By using no-code or low-code tools, businesses can increase the speed of time to value.
5. Work to continuously improve
Like all initiatives that are designed to deliver lasting value, IoT integration is not a one-time undertaking. Businesses must repeat or adapt their IoT initiatives on a regular basis by using the best practice PDCA (plan, do, control, act) procedure to improve outcomes continuously. The four-step process is designed to be repetitive, and can be used to solve problems and as a basis for quality management. It requires businesses to closely analyse situations such as issues or product improvements. They then need implement the planned action to achieve a goal, conduct an analysis of the new and improved state, and finally, develop and introduce a new standard for activity to be measured against.
Many industry-leading global manufacturers have followed the PDCA approach to turn their operational and product signals into redesigned, end-to-end processes with outcomes at scale. By following these five steps, companies can ensure that their investments in IoT solutions will pay off and deliver true value for the business and its customers.
By Andreas Golze, Senior Vice President at Cognizant
The Talent War for Skilled Tech Workers
Post-pandemic, our biggest problem might be a lack of skilled tech talent. As companies move forward with their digital transformation plans, they aim to hire new staff and train their current employees. Out of 750 UK companies polled in a Studio Graphene digital report, 45% plan to hire new tech staff in the next 12 months and more than half (53%) intend to invest in training for their current workers.
Companies are realising that their survival now depends on a limited pool of qualified technology workers. Among the hardest-hit economies are those in Brazil, Indonesia, and Japan, but even the United States and the UK will experience the squeeze. “It’s pure supply and demand”, said Alan Guarino, a Korn Ferry vice-chairman. “Companies are paying more...but there’s still a shortage of high-skilled workers. Technology is the thread that runs across every aspect of business”.
Which Jobs Are In Demand?
According to a 2021 IT salary report by Robert Half Technology, the most in-demand tech jobs of the year include information security professionals, cloud architects, database administrators, systems analysts, and DevOps engineers, among others. But in those fields, it’s difficult to find hires with significant experience, multiple specialisations, and a high level of expertise. And multinationals such as Google, Apple, and IBM usually scoop them up.
Regardless of the exact role, companies need workers who can implement advanced security systems, target cloud and network vulnerabilities, document risk points and failures, and abide by new industry tech regulations. This will likely mean that companies start to take certifications like the ones pioneered by Google and Amazon, instead of insisting on four-year undergraduate degrees.
But even as coding boot camps and year-long certification programmes have ramped up to try to close the gap, smaller tech firms and startups struggle to compete with their bigger counterparts. Remote work doesn’t help matters. “Hire-from-anywhere policies will only heat up a tight candidate market”, said Ryan Sutton, a district president of technology staffing services at Robert Half. “Companies who were already having a hard time recruiting are no longer just working against local competitors, but potentially desirable companies across the country”.
How Can CIOs Solve the Crisis?
As governments try to do their part—Poland offers residency and potential citizenship to skilled tech workers, India offers broad IT, telecommunications, and cybersecurity programmes, and the Netherlands lets its foreign employees earn 30% tax-free income—company executives must take measures of their own.
Some CIOs have started looking to other countries to source expert talent. In the United States, where 80% of U.S. employers state that tech recruiting is a significant challenge, some firms are looking to Mexico, where 20% of college graduates have engineering degrees. As a result, tech companies such as Cisco and Intel have sourced labour from both the U.S. and Mexico.
To compete, here are some first steps:
- Invest in cybersecurity and cloud development training programmes
- Hire based on skills and expertise, not necessarily degrees
- Outsource to other countries with high percentages of skilled engineers and programmers
Overall, companies that broaden their search for talent and upskill their current employees will be best equipped for digital transformation. As Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene, said: “Our research shows that, on the whole, UK businesses have adopted a long-term mindset [towards] technology and innovation”.