A recent IFS research study shows double-digit growth when it comes to the number of companies collecting IoT data on production lines. According to IFS, the increase illustrates that more organizations have moved on from using IoT only to monitor individual components or machines and have started to look at their company's big picture. 

Still, the percentage of organizations who have integrated IoT data streams with their enterprise resource planning (ERP) software hovers at just 16 percent. Here, IFS chief product officer, Christian Pedersen, discusses how IoT growth can revolutionize the way HVAC contractors manage their workers in the field. 

Is there a particular industrial field where companies are adopting IoT sooner than others?  

IFS serves a broad spectrum of industrial sectors — some of the most demanding in the world. When we do research into what is going on in our market, we look at manufacturing, oil and gas, aerospace and asset-intensive industries. What we find is not too surprising. The most advanced industries when it comes to IoT sophistication are those in which high asset cost and asset criticality make IoT a very easy decision. So, we are talking about industries like medical devices, aviation, power generation and industrial automation.

How are you seeing IoT help the construction trades the most?

IoT is penetrating construction and the trades in particular in field service management. This happens in some pretty subtle and some pretty overt ways. The obvious way this happens is through sensored assets being used in predictive maintenance. What is underrated, is the way that the mobile handset used by a worker in the field can enable IoT-drive updates of that resource’s location. This in turn also enables some transformational changes to the business model through things like AI-driven real-time scheduling. IoT can be used across these different scenarios not only to reduce costs, but also to create new billable offerings and revenue.

What sorts of data are construction industries collecting to help with operations?

Construction companies can collect data on the operating conditions of equipment they have installed on customer sites in order to provide predictive maintenance services. They can also collect real-time information on the location and status of workers in the field, so they can schedule them more effectively and even automate field operations to a large extent through schedule optimization algorithms.

How do you recommend company’s get started now measuring IoT data? Where should they be looking for data?

In getting started with IoT, we suggest our customers look at the bottlenecks they experience in their business operations. What is going on in the business? Are they just launching an aftermarket service offering? Then they may want to look at automating that service lifecycle by integrating contract management complete with data on the performance of customer equipment. They will be able to ensure and then document their compliance with service level agreements (SLAs), leading to satisfied customers who renew their annual agreements. And they can scale the business as they continue to invest in field service staff.

This was a two year report. What are your projections for the next two years?

We conduct the research to find out what is going on, so we are hesitant to make predictions about what the data will reveal. But at least in the markets IFS serves, we expect to see increasing investment in IoT use cases that drive not only cost savings but revenue enhancement, too. More companies will pursue, on parallel tracks, pilots of practical solutions that deliver immediate payback and a more existential effort to design the information architecture behind new IoT-driven business models, including servitization and outcomes-based models.