DATArrive-internet-of-thingsAs with most advances in technology, initial buzz can hover around the novelty of of the technology itself, with a vague understanding of how it might impact our lives. There can be an excitement over what could be, but an unrealized connection to the daily impact.

For some time, this has been the progression of the Internet of Things (IoT) or Machine to Machine (M2M) technology. The introduction of automated process and greater access to information has long been the building blocks of industrial advancement, and now, the latest progression of technology is finding a valuable position in many industries.

Recently, Field Technologies Magazine provided an industry report dedicated to the IoT and the specific benefits within field services. The follow list is taken from the recent report “The Vast Benefits M2M and IoT Can Provide” which help to clarify just what exactly the IoT and M2M devices can do for us:

  1. Improve Efficiency and Productivity – rather than sending a driver out to vending machine locations to fill them on a set schedule, you only send someone when inventory gets low. Instead of having a utility worker spending full days reading meters, you can receive that data remotely. M2M allows companies to evolve from reactive work to proactive work.
  2. Provide Better Customer Service – As an organization shifts from being reactive to proactive in the service of their customers, an obvious boon to customer service is felt. Rather than customers alerting service providers of issues, service providers are enabled to identify issues, notify customers, estimate arrivals and have a better grasp on completion times.
  3. Grow Revenue – a reduction in waste is a quick way to maximize profits. The migration towards M2M automation provides new ways for companies to extend the value of their current workforce while providing added value to their service offering and potentially grow their customer base
  4. Business Insight to Make Process and Product Improvements – the data gathered from M2M-enabled process can provide valuable insight into what is working or failing when it comes to products and processes. The ability to analyze real operational process with hard data becomes a valuable resource for companies

Read the entire industry report here.

Technology is Not the Answer

Technology is not the answer. That may sound like a contradictory statement coming from a mobile software company, but I believe it is true.

In speaking with various companies and seeking to keep a pulse on the industry, there seems to be this naive hope that technology can become the savior for a complex mess of operational issues. Hoping that a piece of technology will magically solve the multi-layered challenges of mobile time management, asset management, work order management, etc, etc, etc…is similar to going to the doctor for the pain from a gushing head wound and receiving a shot of morphine. Pain gone, problem solved. The prescription is an oversimplified solution to a very complex problem. Obviously, the immediate symtoms have been dealt with, but in the  long-term, the causes of pain will eventually take over.

Perhaps a better postion is that technology must be a part of the solution rather than the answer. Mobile technology is only as good as the company culture and the established (or adopted) process in place. I think that is why Jay Steinfeld’s recent article at grabbed my attention and resonated with me. As the CEO of one of the pioneer internet-driven companies, he points out 4 ways that technology can actually slow a company down and become detrimental to innovative company culture. For any company looking to implement mobile technology, his suggestions are certainly applicable:

  1. Stay cutting edge, but don’t forget the human side
  2. Don’t read the manual
  3. Ditch the helicopter had and get ready to sweat
  4. Find your own Penny and Brain (think Inspector Gadget)

For the full context, be sure and read the article here.

Technology Alone is Not Enough – Why Siri is a Big Deal

Even if you wouldn’t label yourself a Mac “fanboy,” some kudos have to be paid to iOS 5 and Siri. Simply as a lover of technology one has to admit – Siri is a big deal.

Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb. He mainstreamed it through product design and marketing.

Ford didn’t invent the automobile. He mainstreamed it through cost reductions and marketing.

And once again, Apple has taken power-user technology (a.k.a. Pentagon research technology) and placed it in the hands of everyday consumers. The lesson here – at the end of the day, great technology alone does not win the war. Great technology must also be usable and accessible.