Sankar S. Villupuram, Head of Business Development & IoT, JOS

Villupuram leads the company's Internet of Things (IoT) efforts and business development. He has over 17 years of experience in design and implementation of operational technology leveraging Smart Cards, Biometrics, RFID, to name a few. Villupuram has also managed several landmark projects in Hong Kong.

Sankar S. Villupuram, Head of Business Development & IoT, JOS

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Villupuram leads the company's Internet of Things (IoT) efforts and business development. He has over 17 years of experience in design and implementation of operational technology leveraging Smart Cards, Biometrics, RFID, to name a few. Villupuram has also managed several landmark projects in Hong Kong.

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Internet of Things

Breaking down business silos with the Internet of Things

16 June 2017

Business performance is damaged when departments work in isolation in so called business silos. The internet of things (IoT) offers a chance to improve cross-organisation collaboration.

The notion of a silo mentality in business was first put forward in 1988 by Phil Ensor, a former director of tyre company, Goodyear.  He identified that the performance of many organisations was held back by the inability of different operating units to share information and collaborate effectively. You could fill the floor of a library with all of the business manuals produced since then about the pitfalls of working in silos and how to avoid them.

Business silos come to particular prominence where the application of business technology is concerned. The degree to which new technologies deliver on their promise often stands in direct proportion to the willingness of disparate departments to collaborate.  And, the introduction of new technology in itself can bring down the barriers and provoke internal resistance.

The internet of things, however,  seems to be recognised as an exception to this common business technology frustration – a number of the projects it has worked on to develop IoT capabilities have been the driving force behind unprecedented levels of effective cross-company collaboration.

Whether it’s used for understanding the efficiency of the machinery in a construction site, tracking the occupancy of a bus in real-time, or monitoring temperature and humidity of cold storage in a frontline retail store, IoT – the interaction of teams – is clearly the magic ingredient that can bring about inspiration, greater synergies between multiple functions and exceptional teamwork within an organisation.

JOS’s Head of Business Development & IoT, Sankar S. Villupuram, explained: “Delivering successful IoT solutions involves collaboration across a wide range of departments – for instance, engineering, maintenance, finance controllers, information technology and business management. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that IoT can act as a magic wand to create cross team co-operation across organisational silos. Once people begin to understand what the technology can deliver, it generates a level of excitement which encourages teams to get out of their silos.”

He cited the example of how the internet of things is being used to improve performance in Asia’s shopping malls.

As consumers increasingly make their purchases online, the retail sector is suffering, forcing the closure of shopping malls across the globe: industry commentators predict that a third of malls will close within five years in markets as diverse as China and the USA.

Amid this fiercely competitive landscape, technology can play a role in helping shopping malls to survive and prosper.  Sensors can identify the number of people entering and leaving a shopping mall, while facial recognition software can capture gender, age and other demographic information on an anonymised basis. It’s also possible to track the movement of individuals through the mall via signals from their mobile. Shopping mall owners can uncover even more useful information about visitors and their preferences if they encourage them to log in to in-store Wi-Fi. Mall owners can even combine all of this information with external data sources – weather or traffic information for instance – to reveal hidden patterns and trends in consumer behaviour.

Combining this range of IoT technologies and the data generated by them, forward-looking shopping mall owners can maximise rent yields, optimise the tenant mix and support their tenants with rich marketing data. Social and mobile channels can be integrated with mall experiences to offer customers richer, more rewarding visits – to the benefit of their tenant customers.

Villupuram continued: “These retail analytics for shopping malls are tools for the people charged with driving the viability and profitability of shopping malls – it helps them to understand the journey of all those people who pass through and shop in their mall. And yet, for the analytics to work as intended, you need to bring together a whole team of experts with complementary skillsets. You need electrical and network cabling engineers who understand the building; security professionals with diverse knowledge of infra-red sensors and video analytics; IT professionals who understand Wi-Fi interactions with customers and passive detection technology; and finally the marketing and operational professionals who are the real end users and drivers of these analytics to increase revenue and operational efficiency.”

He summed up: “Whether it’s used for understanding the efficiency of the machinery in a construction site, tracking the occupancy of a bus in real-time, or monitoring temperature and humidity of cold storage in a frontline retail store, IoT – the interaction of teams – is clearly the magic ingredient that can bring about inspiration, greater synergies between multiple functions and exceptional teamwork within an organisation.”

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