IoT (internet of things) has tremendous potential to optimize – and even remake – organizations across nearly every industry over the next few years.

While there is a lot of excitement about what 5G will do for IoT in the future, today’s 4G networks are already delivering on IoT’s promise of connectedness and intelligent collection and usage of massive volumes of data.

Here are six key ways in which IoT can optimize your business operations now. They are:

1. Efficiency: It is costly and time-consuming to perform many manual processes, and if those can be automated, the savings in time and money can be significant. This is especially true in field service environments or other remote operations, when there are issues related to scheduling, dispatching, and travel time. With IoT, companies can either automate these tasks or perform them remotely, yielding bottom line-boosting efficiencies.

2. Reliability: With IoT, downtime can be minimized. Sensors, in remote or other industrial or mechanical equipment, for instance, can provide early indications of potential failure, allowing intervention at the appropriate times. With this type of
Sensors, companies don’t have to wait until their equipment fails, nor do they have to make unneeded technician visits to remote sites and check on that equipment just because it’s time for the regular checkup.

3. Visibility and data: Today, determining the status and position of assets can be challenging and time consuming. With widely deployed IoT sensors, assets such as vehicles, equipment, inventory, and other valuable items can be monitored at all times. Performance and status data can be made available in real time, which will help to reduce costs, improve management, and improve customer satisfaction.

4. Customer experience: Leveraging IoT can produce improvements in customer care by reducing both time to action and the frequency of interactions. Both of those factors can be time-consuming and frustrating from the customer’s perspective. IoT devices can give businesses a better understanding of the customer experience and help them improve it. In retail, for instance, store owners can use what they learn from the way people shop to optimize their store layout and product positioning, either through smart video analytics or other sensor data.

5. New products and services: As companies embrace and experiment with IoT, they can take what they learn from their own positive experiences and learn ways that they can add IoT-based features to their products or services. They can develop innovative approaches that involve intelligently adding sensors to equipment, taking advantage of the opportunity to monetize new services such as asset tracking and predictive maintenance.

6. How you work: What we learn from working with IoT will surely change the way people work. For example, employees will be able to leverage
augmented or virtual reality-based training and support, which will be particularly useful in field service or other remote applications. In other areas, employees will increasingly come to rely on the data and the assistance that IoT-based solutions provide to them, allowing them to work more efficiently. Just as voice-activated systems have changed the way consumers interact with their devices and their networks, this approach will allow workers to get the data they need instantly and connect immediately with other team members, reducing wasted time and effort.

These benefits are addressed in a new white paper from Arthur D. Little and Sprint that not only focuses on how today’s enhanced 4G networks can support IoT use cases, but also addresses how the emerging 5G technologies will unleash the full potential of IoT for businesses in the upcoming years.

Taking advantage of the opportunities

It is important to note that while 5G will help to usher in a vast IoT ecosystem, it is still possible to start building that ecosystem for your organization today, using existing 4G networks. There is no reason to simply wait until widespread 5G comes to your city or region.

To get started, the best first step is to gain an understanding of where your business is today and how you can best proceed to leverage IoT now and how to prepare for what 5G will enable in the future. By taking the time to consult an IoT specialist, you can get the insight you need to determine the direction you want to go.

From there, you can evaluate how IoT can help you achieve your vision and understand better the specific IoT technologies and solutions you need. Next is to determine the optimal ways to connect all of this and then get down to the task of building a business case. Once you have made the commitment, a well-thought-out implementation plan – an IoT specialist can help with that – will provide your roadmap to successful deployment.