Joseph Micallef

Chief Operations Officer at BEAT

Ing. Joseph Micallef is Chief Operations Officer and Partner at BEAT, a Maltese niche-based consulting firm specialising in the provision of project management, strategic advice and business transformation solutions.

Leapfrogging Into The Future With IoT

Thursday 01st November 2018

The term Internet of Things (IoT), originally proposed by Kevin Ashton in 1999 during his tenure at Procter & Gamble, refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an internet-like structure. The concept reflects the fact that the physical and digital worlds are continuously merging together as one; and the more our physical products sense and react to our needs, the more alive they become.

Actually, the idea of connected devices has been around for much longer. Today I am considered a veteran in the field, with more than 25 years’ experience in R&D and engineering, business process reengineering, and strategic development programmes. And I remember when way back in the late 80s and early 90s, in support of our core manufacturing functions, I designed automation machines that were highly reliant on ‘simple’ sensors and actuators that generated logic states, which in turn drove relevant actions to be executed. These were often controlled by PLCs or PC algorithms.  It was all so tangible and visible then, although at times it could still be pretty complex!

Over the years, and throughout my career, as I drifted away from the industrial towards the more services-oriented sectors, I have witnessed the role of platforms becoming increasingly important, as the digital world becomes seamlessly integrated with our physical world.

The IoT as we know it today is a world away from those humble combinations of hard-wired sensors and soft-coded logic algorithms of the past.  Nowadays, IoT can do what we did 30 years ago, only with capabilities of reading situations, collating and processing data, crunching same, and rapidly processing outcomes. It drives intelligent activities through multiple types of actuators, generating reactions in an extremely more powerful manner. Essentially, the Internet of Things is reshaping life as we know it, from the home to the office and beyond. IoT products grant us extended control over appliances, lights, and door locks. They also help streamline business processes, and more thoroughly connect us to the people, systems and environments that shape our lives.

Yet for all its power, the IoT is still at the early-adopter stage. It thus behoves business strategists now to figure out the role they want to play, the capabilities they will need to move forward, and the types of innovation they should pursue. The potential to introduce such impressive capability that is currently becoming available within a number of organisational processes, drives our objectives as a business advisory firm. The focus on business transformation through digitalisation has emerged as a major advancement in adopting automation and intelligence within industrial systems, administrative services, and business in general.

In so many applications, we are now also capable of designing future-state solutions around technology applications that enable organisations to achieve great operational outcomes, and achieve leaps in the quality of services offered. And all this while adding unimaginable value generation, and thus saving on process waste (and therefore costs).

IoT is now disrupting businesses, consumers, and governments. I believe that with greater awareness and education in the capability of IoT, AI, and other emerging technologies, organisations can greatly benefit from the resulting maximisation in operational effectiveness and efficiency, consistency, quality, etc., and reap ROI benefits.  You will undoubtedly agree that generating less process and material waste is in itself justification enough for adopting such an approach.

As a business advisory firm, our objective is to convince organisations from a broad range of sectors to leverage such capability, and explore the potential which we believe is there for the taking. We are then on hand to offer sensible options to increase revenue, and add greater value within their business model for the future. As we go along our business of interacting with various types of organisations, we regularly identify so many opportunities for innovative solutions which exploit emerging technologies, provided such solutions are carefully planned out and meticulously put into place.

IoT is a way for companies to leapfrog into the future and stay relevant to their customers. The demand for better customer service is an ever increasing one. Organisations are constantly looking at ways to reach their customers proactively, and this is where IoT can help.