ECHNOLOGY IS THE THREAD THAT CONNECTS EACH
component of my theme this year, “People. Prod- ucts. Process.” And, of all the innovations being made in technology, the Internet of Things (Io T) is the one that has given us the most disruption—and the most opportunity. So much has been written about the Io T during the past few years; it has become a growing topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it. It is a complex idea, but to boil it down into the simplest definition: It’s all about connectivity: connecting devices to the Internet and to one another and then using the data produced to make better decisions. The Io T is not a fad. It is not going to be a buzzword for a while and then fade away. It’s a major shift in how we live because the Io T has become mainstream. In late 2016 Amazon announced that its holiday sales of the Echo, the Alexa-controlled speaker and the online giant’s entry into the Io T applica- tions at home, were nine times what they were the year before. That is an enormous amount of growth. To use this technology to our advantage, a shift in thinking is required. Distributors need to think about the whole cycle—from the beginning and how data is used, to how much we can handle and how fast we can process and analyze it, to the final step, which is where and how deci- sions are made. This is more than being better informed and being more efficient by automating business processes; it is a fundamental change in capability that provides un- precedented opportunities in business integration and customer connection. The real value that we can get is be- ing able to gather critical data and leverage it. The ability to analyze this information in real time is a game-changer for business. Those who act now can be in the position to capitalize on this strategic opportunity, especially with commercial and industrial customers. It can also provide the opportu- nity to improve internal processes to make them more effi- cient and reduce operational costs. Customer expectations are only going to increase due to the explosion of information available on the Internet. They will expect distributors to know their needs and pro- vide customized solutions to resolve problems quickly. With an increase in a tech-savvy cus- tomer base, the Io T is proving to require more inside sales support, not less. At Springfield Electric, we are seeing an increased call volume on connected devices. Connected devices such as the common lighting dimmer switch, smart time clocks, and variable-speed drives have added to the complexity in support requests. Those that can field a trained inside team to address the Io T ecosystems of connected products may experience profound growth in the years to come. The NAED Strategic Technology Com- mittee has been working on a new white paper on this very topic.
The Internet of Things for Distributor Executives
, the 18th paper in the Executive Guide series, offers a look at how distributors can use the Io T as a competitive advan- tage in both offering new products and services to their customers and using the data collected through the Io T to help operate more efficiently. To learn more about the Io T, download the white paper at naed.org/strategictechnology. ;
is executive chairman of Springfield Electric Supply, Springfield, Ill. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELECTRICAL DISTRIBU TOR
• Oct. 17
IT’S ALL ABOUT
The Io T is not a fad. This is not going to be a buzz- word for a while and then fade away. It’s a major shift in how we live because the Io T has become mainstream.
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