"Internet of Things": Within and beyond the "In-Shop" boundary
Posted by Ashish Verma, Senior Consultant, RCLORC-SBL
In my previous blog on "Internet of Things (IoT)", I talked about how wonderful can be the application of "IoT" for in "In-Shop" experience and how "IoT" will enable retailers to provide a unique shopping experience to customers (read the previous blog: Click Here). My next thought was: "IoT" is such a wonderful concept, if "IoT" can provide such a great experience in "In-Shop", what could be its possible applications beyond the "Shop"? Is such experience limited to within the boundary of a retail store?
Answer is a big "NO", definitely not; "IoT" will continue to serve even after you have moved out of the retail store provided the purchased product is "IoT" enabled. Some common applications are: You don't need to keep track of yearly maintenance schedule of your machines like AC, washing machine or Car etc. Yes, it is true as your appliances and machines will talk to you....thinking how? Through your smart phone...say thanks to "IoT". You will not be needed to worry about "When", "Where" and "What" of after sales services of your internet of things enabled appliances. As "IoT" will provide enhanced after sales services rather value added services such as yearly maintenance reminders, auto refill reminders for your washing machine, remote controlling of electronic appliances etc. We will keep hearing more about buzz words like Connected Vehicle, Connected Care, Connected Home and Connected Appliances etc. in coming days.
It will be an amazing experience to see how pre-orders for grocery items can be placed to retailers with the help of shelves of a connected home or from a connected refrigerator. A customer can go and collect the items from store without being worried about picking and choosing the items hence saving his/her time. Or a retailer will be able to fulfill such orders with the help of a delivery vehicle or may be robots (Drones are one such step in this direction) and customer will be able to track who is delivering and when.
With so much innovation happening in the digital world, retailers of today, who are leaders and want to be leaders in this industry going forward will have to realize "now" that today's customers are connected in smart ways and the number of such customers is increasing at a faster rate. Such customers will look for smart experience while deciding on their purchasing decisions. A fair conclusion can be drawn from the Gartner research, which suggests that by 2020, the "IoT" will have a far better reach and about 26 billion units (read devices) will be "IoT" enabled by that time.
We can imagine the terabyte of data that will be generated from various connected devices (enabled with IoT) and will be available at the disposal of the retailers. If mined wisely, it will help retailers to understand customer behavior in and out of the retail stores. This will further give them opportunity to optimize/automate the business processes in a big way. Who knows when you enter a retail store enabled with "IoT", you will find it completely unmanned as store will be smart enough to assist you with your shopping needs with the help of "IoT".......isn't it this is similar to "Ramrajaya"......where we will not have any guard but still there will be no robbery or theft as store is smart to detect such frauds. Let me add here, already many banks (like Barclay, Standard Charter etc.) have come up with unmanned smart branches equipped with self-service technologies providing whole gamut of banking facilities. Can we not think of such service model in retail industry as well? Why not? We have "IoT" to help.
The use of sensing devices and technology like RFID, telematics and BIG data are making it possible to do things beyond standard. I happened to came across one such company 'AdhereTech' which provides IoT enabled health care solutions such as a connected pill bottle that ensures patients take their medications as per the prescription and his/her doctor will be able to track it. So guys, things are already happening around "IoT" beyond the 'shop' boundary and we will see more in coming days with the convergence of sensing devices and telematics technologies, as the cost of sensing devices becomes more affordable for the masses.
Infosys too has started investing in this area from last couple of years and developed many off the shelf solutions. We have showcased these solutions in various forums like Oracle Open world and Smart IoE Consortium etc. with a great interest and positive responses from the participating enterprises. Our one such solution on the "Connected Vehicle" was highly appreciated by our customers in Oracle Open world where prognostic messages regarding the health of a vehicle were sent to the vehicle dashboard with the help of the content delivery platform using telematics embedded software. Such solutions convinced me that the "IoT" has potential to empower enterprises with a tool to drive a new source of revenue growth and customer delight. So who can dare to say "No" to it?
I sense that in-shop retailers, with the help of "IoT", can add greater value to the customers not only within their stores but also beyond that. The retailers will definitely have an upper edge with such technology and customers will have a better shopping and product experience. We, in Infosys have to think about ways to make such technology affordable for the retailers so that investment in "IoT" can result into a better "RoI" for them.