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How to make the most of connected devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the vast network of objects and sensors that transmit and exchange data. For IoT to provide business value to retailers, it requires a smart network that supports a growing array of people, processes and things. This is where the Analytics of Things (AoT) can play a major role.

AoT lets retailers generate intelligent insights for improving actions. When retailers bring all data into the analytic ecosystem, it can be leveraged to provide keen insights that would otherwise be impossible to make in isolation.

IoT-enabled devices generate a lot of data. Without analysis, the large swathes of IoT data generated are of little value, and connected devices are not able to produce intelligent and responsive outcomes. IoT applications currently being used by retailers include RFID inventory tracking, infrared monitoring of foot traffic, supply chain management, smart shopping and digital signage.

AoT presents the biggest opportunity for retailers to put their data to use. The volume of data can be vast, so they need the right skills and systems in place to extract value from it .

Data should not be viewed as a cost centre, but a goldmine of information that can help retailers develop a more defined competitive advantage. The insights into customer behaviour and shopping habits that AoT can provide, as well as the back-end analysis of processes such as inventory control and supply chain management, can be hugely beneficial to a retailer. So much so that those who don’t take full advantage of the data they collect run a substantial risk of falling behind their competitors.

A retailer may have the best data in the world, but it’s of little benefit if the business can’t respond to what the data is saying. It’s important to find ways to make more insights more actionable in less time. Using data analytics tools to process the data quickly and map out findings will help retailers capitalise on the information. With better processing in place, the results can be fed back into IoT connected devices and help make the devices more intelligent and responsive.

Data that is divided among disciplines or departments is ineffective. It must be fully integrated across all business platforms, making it easy for analysts and end users to extract value from a vast quantity of information on demand. Removing data silos also helps retailers develop a more holistic understanding of the insights portrayed by their data.

Such insights can be used to enhance relationships with loyal and high spending customers, for example, by offering them exclusive deals on their mobile device when they visit the store, or other services, such as free or discounted home delivery.

Analysing more data helps retailers to make considerable improvements in business efficiencies, generating costs savings which could be used to provide better service and pricing to customers and increase revenue.

Retailers should be focusing on analysis of IoT data in areas that will improve customer service, create better value, and ensure that they are always in the best possible position to meet customer demand.

Alec Gardner is Teradata’s general manager for advanced analytics in Australia and New Zealand. 

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