Internet of Things, or IoT, has become pervasive in our daily lives. Smart home technology like Alexa or connected devices such as cloud-based monitoring of your home’s thermostat or garage door come to mind for every day consumers. IoT basically refers to any device connected to the internet that captures data and is recognized by other devices. That fitness tracker on your wrist is another prime example.
For manufacturers big and small, however, IoT is an integral part of their every day operations – from machine metrics, to enterprise resource planning systems to inventory tracking and much, much more. If a manufacturer isn’t leveraging IoT technology, chances are they’re falling behind competitors.
Why does IoT matter to marketers? We’ll get to that, but first, let’s recap what IoT is.
A Brief Overview of IoT
We’ve discussed IoT as part of our Industry 4.0 blog. In manufacturing, IoT is often referred to as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) because of its high adoption rate and niche offerings to industrials. In fact, Microsoft reports that 79% of manufacturers are using IoT technologies, and 82% of them report increases in efficiencies and improved product quality. Those numbers will only continue to grow.
IoT is centered around connectivity throughout an operation and using real-time data to make informed decisions. Instead of looking back three days later to try and figure out why something went wrong, manufacturers can use real-time IoT data to make decisions on the spot and improve outcomes.
Here are just a few areas where IoT has transformed manufacturing:
Predictive Analytics — Sensors on machines can alert maintenance engineers when vibration levels exceed acceptable tolerances and issue repairs to prevent costly downtime.
Capacity Planning — Monitors and dashboards can identify which shifts or operators experience lag time and show opportunities for improving production times and capacity.
Supply Chain and Inventory Management — As a result of scanning capabilities and tracking devices, plant managers can view available materials and work in progress in real time to ensure adequate supplies, and also access data from suppliers about when new materials will arrive.
Quality Control — IoT sensors collect data during various stages of a product cycle, from the moment it hits the production floor and even potentially when it ends up in the customers’ hands. All these analytics can help identify and improve quality issues.
Operations — The production floor isn’t the only area where IoT is making an impact. Multiple departments including finance, HR, purchasing and others use data from their interconnected platforms to correlate with machine data to produce more accurate information, improve forecasting, manage operations and more.
Why IoT Matters to Marketers
Oftentimes, marketers for industrial manufacturers focus on differentiators such as product quality, expertise, cycle times, innovative engineering solutions, production capabilities, durability, cost savings, customer service and a host of other important considerations for potential buyers. Sound familiar? Those are certainly all of value. But, as shown, a manufacturer’s ability to achieve each of those results is likely heavily influenced by its ability to leverage IoT.
Technology and automation have become the foundation of many manufacturers’ successes, yet some marketers are hesitant to include this aspect of operations as part of their content marketing strategies.
Could it be because we, as marketers, are a little intimidated by IoT and its complexity? I know I am. I’d much rather write a blog about improving supply chain relationships than about how accelerometer sensors monitor vibration levels on a pump to alert an operator about potential cavitation. That’s a bad thing, by the way.
The technology and real-time data that improves your production line, creates efficiencies, shortens cycle times, monitors quality and improves safety can inevitably get your products into the hands of your customers on time and on budget. And that’s vitally important to potential customers.
Here’s the deal. IoT matters to marketers because it matters to your ideal buyers. For manufacturers of highly considered goods, your buyer personas likely represent engineers and production managers — people who care a lot about this stuff. These prospects will partly form their opinions of your company based on how innovative it is and whether your facility strives to remain on the leading edge through technology solutions that can solve their problems.
As a digital marketer, you leverage analytics every day to improve engagement and make determinations about your next moves. Your ideal buyers are no different. Prospects don’t just want to know that your company can fulfill a contract; they increasingly want to know why and how, and they want data extracted from IoT to back it up.
I’m not suggesting you head back to school to get your engineering degree or become an IT expert. But I am suggesting you sit down with those in your organization who have already done so to learn from them and glean insights into the ways technology helps set your company apart.
So put on those safety goggles and ask to see the technology in action, to view metrics dashboards, to watch parts coming off the line, etc. Get in the trenches with those who are using IoT every day to better understand its role in your organization’s success, and rely on their expertise to drive content that will serve as valuable resources for your ideal buyers.
I know I’ve talked a lot about why IoT is important, but technology can sometimes feel a little “cold” when trying to appeal to the hearts and minds of buyers. The truth is, it still all comes down to people and their ability (and willingness) to embrace it and leverage the data. The driving motivation is still a desire to make the best decisions possible and to help their organizations succeed. When you, as a marketer, discuss IoT as a differentiator for your business, still keep those underlying motivations as your main focus.
Are you a marketer for a manufacturer? Share your thoughts below. If you’re considering amping up your marketing efforts, it might help to know that Weidert Group specializes in marketing for industrial manufacturers and related services and can provide the expertise, results and, yes, the data you need to succeed. Reach out.