Manaure Stoop About the Opportunities in Retail Sector

By 12 August, 2020 No Comments

How the IoT can help companies survive and win from this crisis. How will the lockdown be used afterwards? Do you think we will have an acceleration of its implementation?

Answer: Let’s first put some context on IoT.

Some car companies have been sending data via IoT for decades already, but why is the “Connected car boom” happening now? Why are there so many home devices with wifi capabilities now? This is happening mainly because our data storage and processing capabilities have grown significantly in the last decade.

IoT is a technology that is not “new”,  but even though it is still in its growing phase from a technology and adoption point of view.

We also have to consider the nature of the technology itself. By definition in order to do Iot we need hardware (sensors, actuators, interfaces..) and the development cycles are very much dependent on their factory production cycles, which limits the technology from an agility perspective. This means that probably we could start seeing IoT specific solutions for this health crisis in the market in approximately 6 months.

Taking into account these 2 characteristics from IoT, we need to understand that the technology response time might not be as fast as technology like eCommerce, but this doesn’t mean that it won’t be important. With IoT as a company we can :

  • Save on operational costs: imagine a connected vending machine that sends its performance data so that the company can apply machine learning algorithms for predictive maintenance and optimizes their operations and avoids sending a maintenance operator.
  • Increasing your customer consuming behavior knowledge:  to know how and when you customers consume your products
  • Increase brand loyalty: you have a new interaction and/or communication channel 

In terms of seeing an acceleration on the technology implementation, I believe there will be an increase but from a consumer adoption point of view. This will depend a lot on each company investment strategy. Take into account that enabling connectivity on a device has a cost and remember we are facing one of the world’s biggest economic crises. A lot of companies will face the hard decision of investing in this or not. From my humble point of view, I think that the ones that decide to stop connecting their devices will have a handicap vs their competitors, and we will face the typical after crisis effect where some companies will raise and some will sadly fall.

With the user behavior changing because of the lockdown, we see an increase in the necessity of remotely interacting with a brand and I have no doubt that IoT is one channel from which we can take much advantage of.

How is the food sector becoming even more digitized in this period?

Answer: On one side I think we have the obvious impact which is the “working from home” paradigm because on one side you have a lot of people working from home, which I believe it hasn’t been much of a digital challenge, but on the other side, you have a lot of people working in production lines, where right now there is a significant of stress and need to keep social distancing and health measures to avoid spreading the virus. We will see for example investment in health like body temperature monitoring and optimizing much more, through robotics and IoT manufacturing lines.

I think the lockdown period has been too short to already see a substantial change in digitalization, but the food industry has been already turning more digital in the last 5 years in so many fronts: from digital marketing, agile ways of working, working with a digital product approach, and even more interesting, new business models triggered by this new technology.

Nestlé, to give an example, has been investing in different digital technologies to improve their business like:

  • Ecommerce
  • Mobile Applications
  • IoT
  • Social Networks
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Chatbots
  • AR/VR

We are in unprecedented times which of course generate unprecedented consuming behaviors, that means that now we are testing the agility on our already existing products, and in some cases our capacity to scale

Three pieces of advice you’d give to companies that focus on IoT to create value for consumers. How could they bring profit?

Answer: Each industry has its own peculiarities and uses cases, but what is the same for all is: in order to generate sustainable benefit, we need to provide value to our consumers/users. This is the great strategic, financial, and creative challenge that all industries have when doing consumer-facing IoT.

My three advice would be:

  1.  Not implementing IoT just because we can. It is a complex technology, and if we don’t have a clear use case, with an associate business case, that we can validate in our first product iterations, it could end up in a substantial expense for the company.
  2. To have a clear data strategy. There are several transactional use cases that generate a lot of data,  where we can bring value to the user, but if we don’t design it in a way so we can, later on, take advantage and process that data, we will lose the data. At some point, it is very expensive to transform that data into something usable. Also, take into account the time necessary for storing data before you can do something with it in your business cases. Machine learning algorithms require an important volume of data, which depending on the industry could take up to 1 year to gather. 
  3.  Gather your business, analysts, UX, technology experts, and come up with great connected devices use cases and experiences and invest in IoT.  Don’t leave it only to one area of the company.

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