4 Real Life IoT Success Cases Proven to Transform Business

7 min.

Cisco predicts there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Already today more cars are connected to the Internet than smartphones, and 10 billion connected clothing items are about to hit the shelves (and the majority of those shelves are virtual, of course). On a more business-oriented note, IDC forecasts that 33% of industry leaders will be disrupted by IoT by 2018. Also, 58% of organizations understand that the Internet of Things is strategic to their business, and 24% realize IoT’s transformational value to business.

IoT is clearly piping hot, but exactly how it’s going to perform miracles, is not clear to most of us. So today we decided to take some already established IoT success stories with impressive track records and look at them in-depth to see what the fuss is about.

Coca-cola — Next Level Customer Experience, Loyalty and Marketing

Today the store is where the customer is. People want things here and now via frictionless and intuitive rich experiences, experiences that are carefully planned out yet are consumed as seemingly authentic.

True IoT pioneer, Coca-Cola already boasted a third of their vending machines connected to the Internet back in 1982. Today the company uses IoT to fine-tune contextual engagement strategies, offer one-click self-service, understand customer purchasing behavior, reimagine customer loyalty and trace spikes in consumption to improve targeted marketing.

We utilize intelligent vending machines to enable our digital strategy for vending. That strategy is compromised of three key elements: a smart connected fleet, empovering digital path to purchase, and seamless payment & loyalty.

Derek Myers Photo

Without humans at the retail point to get customer feedback, data from IoT-enabled vending machines is crucial, used to locate the busiest locations, most popular drinks, gage inventory levels, machine profitability, etc. Coca-Cola has a big data repository of customer flavor choices to analyze, and has created a new flavor after data showed that mixing Cherry and Vanilla Coke was popular. Coca-Cola works with AirWatch, SAP and Salsforce.com to create and gain insight from profiles for each dispenser.

IoT enables cashless payments, personalized communications, stocks and refills notifications for management, performance and service data for suppliers, and a rewards loyalty program where people can pay via Android or Apple phones and accumulate points for a free drink all in one tap.

With Coca-Cola’s 100,000 machines accepting mobile wallets it’s the biggest mobile payment retail fleet. Mobile wallets also enable timely, targeted contextual ads. Case in point: when Derek travels, he likes to stay hydrated, but sometimes forgets to purchase his water. “My Coke Rewards platform can push a message reminding me to pick up a bottle before I board to ensure I’m not left thirsty en route to my next destination. Consumers can text ‘wallet’ to 2653 to register and download their card.”  Similarly, consumers headed to the gym will be reminded to get a sports drink prior and a protein shake after their session.

Coca-Cola’s next step is to enable students to pay for drinks with student ID cards, as well as make company coolers and displays IoT-enabled.

Compology — Reduce Waste Collection Costs by 40 per cent

Smart companies and smart cities are becoming a reality, and a San Francisco startup launched three years ago is selling smart waste collection. Compology has introduced WasteOS, able to cut waste collection costs by 40 percent thanks to its waste management IoT cloud solution.

Compology sensor in use
Compology sensor in use, photo by govtech.com

The solution uses sensors and software that enables you to analyze data to plan the most efficient routes for your fleet. GPS-enabled sensors with cameras are battery-powered, “built like a tank” for harsh conditions. Captured images are transmitted over mobile networks to calculate real-time container fullness in the cloud. Data from all serviced dumpsters helps optimize routing and scheduling. It can also be used for predictive analysis of container status in low connectivity areas with scattered data. Truck fleet can also be reduced by 40 per cent, according to Jason Gates, co-founder of Compology.

Drivers are equipped with tablets with purpose-built customized apps to get real-time data on containers in need of service and the fastest routes to do it. The app is designed visually for optimized safety and ease-of-use in a noisy dangerous environment. In the words of Gates, “It’s not cute… it’s very functional.”

The data is used to be aware of roll-off inventory and times when each container was emptied last. The number of lost or stolen containers is minimized. Pick-up takes place only when there is a real need for it. Fewer equipment is required to do the same job, leading to efficient asset management and greater revenue. You can also improve performance by analyzing metrics on sales and operations, visualized on powerful cloud-based dashboards. Financial benefits of using Compology’s IoT solution can be quantified using this online calculator.

Waste OS also leads to better customer service — haulers know when services are needed before the client does. In the words of Compology user, Louie Pellegrini, “The ability to anticipate when they’re full, in advance of the customer calling, brings efficiency to routing and work to be done in the future”.

Compology is ahead of competition thanks to cost-effectiveness of their product that can be retrofitted to containers already utilized.

Rio Tinto — Harness The Power of Predictive Analytics and Maintenance

IoT-powered predictive maintenance helps identify existing maintenance issues before an actual problem like an emergency or accident arises. One example is a global mining company Rio Tinto, routinely gaining insight into problematic vehicles by 24/7 IoT sensor monitoring. The upside $2 million in daily savings for every time a breakdown is averted.

Rio Tinto sensors
Rio Tinto sensors, scheme by John McGagh for Internet of Things

Rio Tinto has been using self-driving dump trucks in Western Australia since 2008. All the vehicles are joined into the Autonomous Haulage System (AHS), with each truck equipped with 200 sensors, GPS receiver and RGS (radar guidance system), with the fleet being managed remotely.

Rio Tinto Mine Automation System
Rio Tinto Mine Automation System, scheme by John McGagh for Internet of Things World Forum

The result is that you always know where each truck is. The data from equipment, personnel and geological instruments is centralized at the operations center. Rio Tinto’s Mine Automation System provides a real-time 360 degree view of all mining operations consumed via 3D visualizations for predictive maintenance, smart scheduling and servicing.

Human input is currently necessary on location to oversee mining equipment, customize routes and dump locations. But IoT will eventually empower Rio Tinto to manage without humans thanks to autonomous drilling and automated rail systems. Learn more on that in John McGagh’s presentation for Internet of Things World Forum.

Bank of America — More Productive Workplace Culture

It sounds intrusive and illegal but employee surveillance has been around for at least 20 years. Sociometric Solutions developed tracking sensors for Bank of America, based on the MIT students’ idea of uncovering the truth behind team-building successes like Google. Sensors in employee IDs collect real-time data on tone of voice, speaking speed and volume, movements, position and posture during socializing with colleagues.

The goal is to boost efficiency by uncovering when and how productivity reaches its peak levels. IoT-enabled employee tracking can be done in a way that brings valuable insight to employees without legal issues or discomfort (sensors do not record conversation and connected software anonymizes all metadata).

The sociometric sensors are comprised of Bluetooth, microphone, motion sensor and infrared beam. Data on voice pitch and speed is used to indicate the amount of emotion in the conversation at a given time. Infrared beams help identify other IDs and the position of interlocutors to gather insights: if listeners face the speaker, the speaker is a dominant in the equation; if speakers mirror each other, they are on more equal terms.

Sociometric Badges
Sociometric Badges, photo from Sociometric Solutions twitter

The devices were tested in 90 call center employees. The results were revealing: when taking breaks together, employees actually took time to solve workplace issues. By changing workplace culture, a 10 percent improvement in productivity was achieved.

Alex Pentland, a professor at MIT and advisor to Waber’s group, swears by the accuracy of received data, writing for the Harvard Business Review: “We’ve been able to foretell, for example, which teams will win a business plan contest, solely on the basis of data collected from team members wearing badges at a cocktail reception”.

It’s difficult to get on the IoT trend, faced with competition from corporate giants with almost unlimited budgets who started investing in the field 10-20 years ago and can already show impressive results. But with the latest IoT development practices, IoT-enabling technologies are becoming smaller, cheaper, easier to use.