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Companies using AI and IoT Together Have Advantage, Study Says

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A recent survey of global business leaders indicates that the most significant predictor in realizing value from Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives across an organization is the heavy use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The study, conducted by SAS, Deloitte and Intel with help from IDC, asked 450 business leaders from around the world about their use of IoT and AI technologies.

Ninety percent of survey respondents heavily using AI in their IoT operations reported exceeding value expectations. The research also showed organizations using IoT with AI appear to be more competitive than IoT-only enterprises by a double-digit margin across a variety of business indicators like employee productivity, innovation and operating costs.

“In these results, we are seeing that organizations working with IoT data realize that if they want to get the real value out of the data, they need AI and analytics,” said Oliver Schabenberger, COO, SAS. “I think it is fair to say that most successful IoT operations are actually AIoT operations.” AIoT is defined as decision making aided by AI technologies in conjunction with connected IoT sensor, system or product data. AI technologies include deep learning, machine learning, natural language processing, voice recognition and image analysis.

Other key findings include:

•           99 percent of respondents said, in aggregate, the benefits of using AI + IoT solutions met or exceeded expectations.

•           34 percent of senior leaders said increased revenue was the most important expected improvement companywide.

•           Reported benefits and results within 12-24 months of using AI + IoT include decreased costs or expenses (85 percent), improved employee productivity (87 percent), streamlined operations (86 percent).

Recognizing this market trend, the upcoming IoT Evolution Expo 2020, taking place February 11 to 14 in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, is focused on the meeting of Machine Intelligence and IoT, operating under the tagline “The Intelligent IoT Arrives.” Collocated and emphasizing the joint theme is sister show, The Future of Work Expo

“AI and IoT are no longer in separate swim lanes,” said Melvin Greer, Chief Data Scientist, Intel Americas. “AI closes the loop in an IoT environment where IoT devices gather or create data, and AI helps automate important choices and actions based on that data. Today, most organizations using IoT are only at the first ‘visibility’ phase where they can start to see what’s going on through IoT assets. But they’re moving toward the reliability, efficiency and production phases, which are more sophisticated and require stronger AI capabilities.” 

The study showed that nearly 70 percent of companies relying on IoT data to inform daily decision making overwhelmingly use it for operational decisions by employing spreadsheets and other non-AI technology.

For Gautam Khera, Senior Director at Western Digital, a leading infrastructure provider, AI already has a practical impact on the company’s IoT strategy. “How do we build our storage devices and learn fast?” he said. “How do we ensure the quality and the yield? How do we get a faster time-to-market, time-to-cost? We’re using AI schemes to help us do that internally in our development processes, in our R&D, and in our factories.”

IDC’s Maureen Fleming, Program Vice President for Intelligent Process Automation, agrees with Khera. “Improving the speed of data refresh in collecting sensor data combined with AI expands an organization’s ability to focus on immediate planning while also quickly identifying and resolving operational problems. The combination produces greater agility and more efficiency.”

Khera said they had to be persistent and keep pushing on pairing IoT data with AI. “Those projects are now our plan of record process to use AI,” said Khera. “It’s working well, and it’s trusted across the board. We are now using advanced analytics to help us tackle problems in R&D. I can use various advanced analytic techniques to understand the shape of my data, to understand the features, what are the drivers, I can look for hidden effects for anomalies that traditional techniques or the human eye just won’t see.”

For AIoT success, the bottom line is to start at the top according to Andy Daecher, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Internet of Things Practice Leader. “These initiatives really have to be on the CEO’s agenda,” Daecher said. “He or she needs to repeatedly say, ‘this needs to happen in our organization.’ You can’t have a successful AIoT initiative without the business initiating it, period. These are really business initiatives, not technology initiatives.” 

To dig into the meeting of AI and IoT, and how they can accelerate your business success, join us at IoT Evolution Expo 2020: The Thinking IoT Arrives and at the sister show The Future of Work, taking place simultaneously. 


Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Future of Work Contributor

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