Five Ways the IoT can Accelerate Sustainability Efforts

Bryan Long, Chief Digital Officer at ENGIE Insight

Innovations in technology are the backbone of the “Internet of Things” or IoT for short; roughly, it’s the network of all Internet-connected devices that deliver data to the cloud where it can be sent to you anywhere including your desktop and mobile devices. It’s the Internet-connect thermostat right in your living room, or the energy management systems in your building, or the maintenance sensors on your facility assets. While these myriads of devices and the data they deliver can be overwhelming, businesses who are harnessing the power of this data are driving trustworthy insights to inform sustainability programs and seeing new, significant savings for their business.

Here are five reasons IoT is not only relevant to businesses today but an imperative to integrate into operations to collect data and control their facilities:

1) It helps reduce consumption to lower costs.

Businesses, especially multi-site commercial, can leverage IoT to reduce their resource consumption, drive down maintenance costs, and increase operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction. “Smart” IoT systems can automatically control lighting, temperature, and even landscape irrigation without customers or employees even noticing.

2) It provides data to improve operational efficiency.

Open and integrated systems are creating new opportunities for businesses to leverage their data and analytics. The result is unprecedented insight into aspects of how a facility is operating relative to others, and the reasons behind why it is a leader or laggard. This allows organizations to be laser-focused on where they are investing their OpEx and CapEx budgets.

3) It can help you overcome surprises.

Connected devices and sensors—combined with the right analytics—can help predict future faults and failures and drive maintenance savings, or even react to emergencies and intervene without human assistance. For instance, a business can spot outliers in energy use that may mean an asset is starting to fail and repair it, avoiding downtime; or, if there’s a power failure it can automatically engage back up power to keep the asset running.

4) It can provide better customer experiences.

Today’s business customers demand fresh, new experiences, and one of the most exciting innovations of IoT seen lately is organizations that leverage smartphone apps to put information and control right in their hands. Customers can stay connected to everything from their doorbells to thermostats to garage doors. One of the most unusual new IoT customer concepts is the Amazon Go convenience store. Through a combination of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning, the “Just Walk Out” technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to a shelf and keeps track of them in a virtual cart, then charges the customer’s Amazon account once they’ve left the store. Not only is it a unique customer experience, the company saves through reduced operating costs.

5) It can give you a competitive advantage.

However, as companies look to where they want to invest, it’s important to be selective and establish a program to vet new technology to maximize its value to the organization. New technologies are becoming less expensive, and leverage the cloud for their platform, making these systems more open and the data more easily accessible.

And if you can create something unique, it can be an even bigger competitive advantage.

Connected systems – and the data they deliver – are here to stay, and they can be essential tools for driving your sustainability efforts, and your business, forward. With any new data source, the ability to harness it and drive insight from it is key to delivering the value that these devices promise.

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