“Engineering a green future: How IoT can help.”

11 May 2022 | Dr. Rishi Mohan Bhatnagar

It’s not news anymore that climate-related events gravely impact more than 1 in 4 organisations worldwide. According to a report reveals that 3 in 10 organisations are also seeing operational impacts of climate-related events, such as flooding and wildfires, which have destroyed facilities and displaced workforces. The end result? Broken and disrupted supply chains. In addition to these events, traditional systems are obviously seeing greater utilisation of nonrenewable resources, contributing to even more pollution and climate change. 

However, today’s digital world is gearing up to be steered by a technology-driven sustainable engine. And smart innovation is its backbone. Industry 4.0 is altering business patterns with new and smarter technologies that can support changing consumers preferences for greener and more sustainable products and services. A research report from 2020 says that nearly six in 10 consumers surveyed are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Nearly eight in 10 respondents indicate sustainability is important for them. And for those who say it is very/extremely important, over 70 percent would pay a premium for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible. In every industry, consumers are demanding greener products laced with greater flexibility, efficiency, and productivity.. In the midst of this growing demand for more responsible brands and a greener future, and IoT (Internet of Things), among the various new-age technologies, is at the heart of it all. 

India is expecting to see its renewable energy capacity quadrupled by 2020, generating $90 billion in GDP and creating two million jobs. Today, businesses understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to being sustainable. Each company will need to build its approach within its overall business strategy.

A positive outcome of Covid-19 has been the accelerated pace of digitalisation, especially of small to large businesses. Organisations quickly adopted relatively advanced technologies to accomplish remote-working, flexibility, and efficiency in adverse situations – broken or non-functional supply chains, for example. And for many companies, IoT has become quintessential. Presently, most countries have lifted pandemic restrictions and businesses are slowly shifting their attention to growth rather than survival. From a simple connectivity tool that kept companies running, IoT is now being considered critical to deliver green impact in the current business ecosystem, enabling business stability and even contributing towards building new products and exploration of new revenue streams. Another important area where IoT has great impact is in resource optimisation and waste management leading to reduction in costs, improvement in turnaround times and overall streamlining. 

And the results are out. So far, the areas, in which IoT has been deployed, have seen tremendous impact. 

In the Automotive industry, it has led to better fuel efficiency. As the world moves together in the direction of sustainability to adopt Electric Vehicles for both passenger and commercial segments, the effect of IoT adoption is significant. For instance, IoT solutions enabling smart parking spaces has brought efficient utilization of available space. Additionally, the availability of real-time updates of empty/free slots to both drivers and staff means tangible savings of both time and fuel.

Within the Manufacturing segment, Industry 4.0 has brought about increased productivity, helping businesses scale up by enabling remote data analytics through smart connectivity of all machines as well as supply-chain integration. IoT makes it possible to increase the efficiency, availability, quality, and cost-efficiency of the value-making chain, while the energy consumption and the GHG emission can be decreased considerably with real-time monitoring of usage, identifying and reducing wastage.  

IoT has also solved many challenges in Retail, and FMCG with connected supply-chain, including and not limited to higher employee efficiency, greater sales, improved customer experiences, and better acceptance of digitalisation measures. As a business asset that can empower organizations to reduce waste because of smarter and more enhanced logistics, IoT can provide the data required to quickly modernise as per the ever-changing customer demands. It can further facilitate organisations to provide consumers with smart products and services. 

In a nutshell, IoT-powered organisations become more ready to adapt to changing environment dynamics: they see emerging challenges far ahead, respond and adjust faster, and develop smarter and better products, all the while effortlessly abiding by new regulations and guidelines. 

Given this encouraging context, we must also understand that green technology cannot bring on its promised benefits overnight. Many challenges exist, such as legacy systems which have already seen heavy investments in the past and are still in working condition. In these cases, a complete overhaul is not warranted instead what is needed is – steady replacement over time. Another big challenge is secure integration of IT/OT environments, and the efforts that organisations will need to make in this regard. 

However, with visionary leadership, sincere top-to-bottom commitment, and the support of capable  and trusted technology partners, organisations should develop long-term strategy that aligns business outcomes to sustainability. As we look ahead to a promising post-pandemic world with constantly evolving norms, this is the only acceptable way forward to keep us future-ready. 

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