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  • Writer's pictureRobert Lutz

COVID’s ‘Contactless Economy’ Spurs Faster Digital Transformation with IoT

We’re now a year into the pandemic, and we’ve all watched COVID-19 take a devastating toll on human health. The worldwide health emergency has simultaneously affected global markets, catalyzing profound -- and many believe, permanent -- changes in how organizations operate.

“The pandemic has been a wake-up call for enterprises to get serious about employing technology platforms,” says Jonathan Cobb, CEO of Ayla Networks. "It’s no longer a matter of if you’re ready, but how you’ll respond to a changing world."

Pre-COVID, many companies were working gradually to transform their businesses with new digital technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, to replace manual or outdated systems. The arrival of the pandemic greatly accelerated the efforts.

The New Economy is Contactless

To navigate the New Normal, businesses of all sizes and kinds started paying more attention to their customers’ concerns about viral contagion. IoT technologies have played a role in enabling so-called “contactless” systems – an area that research firm Deloitte pinpoints as the “single most important factor that differentiates this crisis.”

“The contactless economy has been driven by both supply-side (e.g., the rise of digital technologies such as 5G, cloud platforms, AI & data analytics) and demand-side factors (e.g., need for convenience, heightened awareness for health and safety). Some of these existed previously but were accelerated due to the crisis,” says Deloitte in its report, “Contactless Economy: Are you prepared?”

More companies in more market segments are investing in IoT technology to expand their visibility into business processes, collect and analyze business data, teach devices to recognize patterns and perform mundane tasks and use artificial intelligence to prevent problems—all while automating processes that support and promote contactless operations.

The contactless economy is a major concern for Ayla customers as they speed toward digital transformation efforts that will touch the smart home, food service, service provider, and broader retail markets. Among them are:

  • Home appliance manufacturers. Manufacturers are using IoT for automated updates and preventive maintenance, removing the need for most in-person repairs and adjustments. They are also collecting data about how consumers use their products to gain insights into how to improve future product iterations. Consumers’ concerns about health due to COVID-19 are leading to more sales of contactless thermometers, thermal scanners, automated sanitizer dispensers, etc., and connected or smart versions of those products make it easier to remotely monitor and diagnose without the need for labor that carries a health risk.

  • Telecom service providers. IoT technology can identify unusual and suspicious data patterns that lead to equipment crashes, so that service providers can fix the issues before subscribers become disgruntled from having to frequently reboot their routers—and before service providers need to dispatch technicians to address the issues in person. This improved customer service saves service providers in both direct support costs and in reduced customer churn.

  • Quick-service restaurants (QSRs). IoT technology allows QSRs to capture data on the location and condition of food items, including temperature fluctuations and expiration dates; track the movement of food products through the supply chain; forecast the useful life of kitchen equipment and predict parts replacements and other maintenance issues, and keep consumers more engaged by automating recipe updates and testing new offerings in various markets. In some cases, IoT technology is replacing scarce and risky labor with robots to ensure consistent food prep practices. All these factors help drive greater efficiency and business value, without requiring human contact.

  • Retailers. IoT technology can capture data about product availability in warehouses and at the point of sale, enabling retailers to manage inventory levels, reduce out-of-stock items, and improve customer service through better visibility into demand—for both online sales and, as brick-and-mortar stores reopen after pandemic shutdowns and limitations, for in-person shopping.

Thankfully, the maturity of IoT technology has reached an optimal point to justify the business case for investment. If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, perhaps it is that COVID has motivated enterprises to become better prepared for the future.

Isn’t it time to talk with Ayla Networks about your own future and transforming your business with IoT?


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