For all of the excitement over the internet of things, business is just starting to realise the full potential of the technology's promise.
The Internet of Things (IoT), the catchall phrase used to describe the networking capability that allows connected devices to send and receive information, has mushroomed into a critical tool for businesses to differentiate themselves by adding more value to consumers' everyday lives while improving business performance.
For example, connected devices within the home such as refrigerators, home assistants, and doorbells help simplify life through convenience as well as enhance safety. In leisure sports, runners wear chips on their shoes to track their progress in races, and skiers can track their vertical feet skied at Vail Resorts, with the help of scanners in lift lines that read their passes.
In fact, IoT connections are expected to more than double worldwide to 26.9 billion by 2026, up from 12.6 billion last year, according to Ericsson's 2020 Mobility Report. That's a compounded annualised growth rate of 13%.
All the data derived from connected devices will serve as an axis on which IoT will thrive in the coming years.
IoT data delivers significant performance
Businesses of all industries can reap the benefits of IoT by leveraging the vast amounts of data to their advantage. When devices and technology are IoT-enabled, they monitor and measure data in real-time. The payoffs include:
- Innovative and predictive customer insights
- Improved customer experience
- Greater operational efficiency
Data-driven insights create tangible value in the restaurant industry
Restaurants are gaining value from the information they collect to make data-driven predictions. On the customer side, data collection can occur at all customer touchpoints and with any device connected to the cloud, including menu boards, ordering kiosks, and point-of-sale systems.
In the kitchen, IoT enables data capture from cooking equipment, food sensors, and more. For example, our Xenial restaurant technology in the US enables predictive cooking. The product, Xenial Chef, collects data from the point of sale. Then it uses current and historical sales information to indicate how much food to prepare and how to staff workers in the kitchen. This makes it easier to anticipate order volume and be ready to meet customer demand. The system even connects the kitchen ecosystem, including holding pans, broilers, and fryers, monitoring when food was put in them, when a tray came out, and at what time. This insight can help improve food quality and safety measures, avoid food waste, and potentially lower food costs.
In the drive-thru lane, next-generation IoT solutions can help reduce friction in the customer ordering experience. For example, this could look like a car pulling into the drive-thru and being identified by a camera-based timer system, which helps in-store staff know who's waiting in line. An AI-powered voice assistant can take guest orders, while the outdoor menu board automatically suggests items to upsell based on that customers' order, time of day, popular menu items, and even outside temperature. The camera-based timer system could also capture various service time metrics, allowing restaurant operators to understand and improve drive-thru service times and determine the need for line busters. In this way, interconnected IoT devices would work together to help restaurants serve more customers, even faster, with less manual processes involved.
IoT has far-reaching impact
Beyond restaurants, the use cases are many. And the efficiency gains and improved customer experience that IoT promises to deliver are significant.
For example, IoT helps retailers monitor foot traffic to anticipate demand surges and make changes to staff on the fly, reducing operational expense. Enterprise companies use IoT to efficiently adjust temperature controls across vast geographic footprints according to entry and exit times, adjusting their heating and cooling systems and generating big savings.
The future is in IoT data
IoT technology and its uses are maturing. Companies are seeing IoT as an enabling technology and not necessarily a product by itself. Connecting devices to the cloud, and connecting systems together, are key to getting the data needed to realise performance gains. Commerce partners like Global Payments offer innovative end-to-end industry software solutions built for IoT data integration. These solutions simplify systems integration and deliver the critical data needed to make business-enhancing decisions.
For businesses looking to deliver better customer experiences and drive operational improvements, the future for business growth can be found in the data.