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Opinion: How to profit from the Internet of Things: 4 quick successes and 4 bigger ideas

During the past few years, much has been made of the billions of sensors, cameras, and other devices being connected exponentially in the “Internet of Things” (IoT)—and the trillions of dollars in potential economic value that is expected to come of it. Yet as exciting as the IoT future may be, a lot of the industry messaging has gone right over the heads of people who today operate plants, run businesses and are responsible for implementing IoT-based solutions. Investors find themselves wondering what is real, and what is a hyped-up vision of a future that is still years away.

Over the past decade, I have met with dozens of organizations in all corners of the globe, talking with people about IoT. I’ve worked with traditional industrial companies struggling to change outmoded manufacturing processes, and I’ve worked with innovative young startups that are redefining long-held assumptions and roles. And I can tell you that the benefits of IoT are not in some far-off future scenario. They are here and now—and growing. The question is not whether companies should begin deploying IoT—the benefits of IoT are clear—but how.

So, how do the companies get started on the IoT journey? It’s usually best to begin with a small, well-defined project that improves efficiency and productivity around existing processes. I’ve seen countless organizations, large and small, enjoy early success in their IoT journey by taking one of the following “fast paths” to IoT payback:

  • Connected operations. By connecting key processes and devices in their...

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