The role of IoT and data analytics in equipment wellness

The rise of the internet of things across industries has been huge over the last few years, and it’s only growing. IDC research finds that worldwide spending on IoT is forecast to reach $772.5 billion in 2018; a 15% increase over IoT spend in 2017. Led by manufacturing, transportation, and logistics and utilities, it’s clear that positive business benefits and outcomes are driving the IoT market.

Meanwhile, an increased focus on employee wellness has taken shape as a trend in offices across the country. Companies are using technology to effectively analyze and predict staff needs and ensure a healthier and more productive workforce. But optimal employee health is just half the battle — what about the health of the equipment they use and the facilities they work in? Even the most productive people can only do so much without a healthy, efficient and safe environment.

There are well over 2 million physical locations in the U.S. occupied by retailers, restaurants, grocery stores, banks and other chain-like businesses. And while each has its own unique set of goals, challenges and strategies, there is a common thread across every business: all are faced with an urgency to deliver exceptional experience, at both the customer and employee level. And price — the traditional baseline differentiator between success and failure for many businesses — is no longer driving business as e-commerce and other trends have initiated a dramatic, industry-wide shift. As a result, customer experience is now king.

There are scores of approaches to achieving exceptional customer experience, but the most successful organizations are prioritizing two areas in particular: maintaining safe, clean and well-functioning facilities and equipment, and the application of technology to create exceptional experiences.

The role of IoT and data analytics

The business landscape is as competitive as ever — and part of keeping pace lies in maintaining a proactive strategy around facilities and equipment management. Reacting to maintenance issues as they pop up proves a never-ending battle that can have a lasting impact on consumers’ impression of businesses, ultimately impacting a brand’s reputation.

IoT is quickly maturing in the equipment space, and when addressing equipment wellness trends, there’s no doubt that IoT-enabled devices offer a huge advantage over legacy processes. In terms of equipment management, IoT equals intelligence — connected equipment has the ability to, for example, self-diagnose and initiate a repair and maintenance work order when it senses possible failure or other issues. IoT can also dramatically enhance the product and user performance; for example, fitness machines can now autonomously track their own status, offering actionable data and insights so club owners and gym managers can stay ahead of maintenance issues. Data also gives them a look at trends so they can deliver the best possible experience for customers. While this may sound like tomorrow’s technology, the future is here and coming to a gym, store, hospital or bank near you sooner than anyone might think.

Data analytics is arguably the most effective tool businesses have to better manage equipment and deliver on customer needs. However, tracking and analyzing equipment usage is more than placing a checkmark on a planned maintenance schedule. The technology tools that are readily available to facilities teams enable them to take a holistic look at the health of their capital equipment, including tracking usage data, service records and warranty coverage information and history, on a per-device basis. Let’s go back to the smart fitness equipment as an example: IoT helps self-monitor and track equipment details that help owners understand peak times in the club, enabling them to make informed decisions when scheduling routine maintenance and staffing. All companies can utilize data insights to make informed decisions, ultimately saving time and money, and eliminating the guesswork that was yesterday’s strategy.

The challenge inherent in adopting this (and any new technology and operational practice), is the need for a marked transformation for facilities operators who are accustomed to doing things a certain way. But the motivation for adoption is quite simple: Adopting automation to track equipment health leads to a better customer and employee experience, and a healthier bottom line.

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