Industry 4.0

The Internet of Things (IoT)
Provides Significant Performance
Improvement Opportunities

Paul Poirier

February 3, 2020
5 min read

I was asked by a colleague in the 3rd quarter of 2019 why we were adding the IoT (Internet of Things) to our service portfolio. She said she discovered during some research, that the IoT market was a little like the Wild West. In addition, business leaders had serious reservations regarding IoT security. I responded in the affirmative that some of her findings were accurate. I suggested we schedule a one-hour meeting to discuss IoT market opportunities. While this colleague had no impact on our service portfolio decisions, she was an influential person who would be great to have on board as one of our internal IoT advocates.

When I met with my colleague, I began by showing her the photo to the right. I asked her what she saw. She responded, “It’s a fountain pop machine.” same response I get 99% of the time. Yes, you are right. To the untrained eye it is, I said. To the trained professional, this is the digitizing of our physical world. This is an innovative IoT solution that is delivering real economic value to Coca-Cola and its clients that is well beyond the hype.

I explained that the data currently being gathered from IoT solutions is mostly for anomaly detection and control, not optimization and prediction, where the greatest value and ROI can be realized by businesses. The IoT solution seen in the photo is called the CocaCola Freestyle. Rather than telling her the story of the Coca-Cola Freestyle, I shared with her part of an interview of Derek Myers, group director, channel strategy and development at Coca-Cola conducted by IoB (Internet of Business) back in September of 2016. I share the same with you now:

Full Interview Link

IoB: What is Coca-Cola doing with ‘intelligent’ vending machines?

Derek Myers – “We utilize intelligent vending machines to enable our digital strategy for vending. That strategy comprises three key elements: a smart connected fleet, empowering digital path to purchase, and seamless payment and loyalty.”

IoB: How does IoT help with these intelligent vending machines? Why bother to connect these machines to the Internet at all?

Derek Myers: “The connection is key. Vending machines are essentially our retail stores but one unique characteristic of vending is that each location is not attended by a person. Without a human element to ensure the store is open and able to sell, having a consistently connected fleet is critical to ensure our stores are always ready to refresh our customers.”

IoB: What ROI have you seen on these vending machines? Saving cost, better inventory management?

Derek Myers – “Our returns have been very strong as we are making the most out of our investment. The same technology that powers acceptance of mobile wallets and My Coke Rewards also powers our ability to understand inventory levels and machine health.”

I shared with my colleague that the Coca Cola Freestyle was introduced into the market in 2009 and currently there are over 50,000 units (stores) in the market. The fountain channel accounts for nearly a quarter of total soft-drink sales and Coca Cola dominates with about 70% while Pepsi’s share is around 19%.

I finished the Coca-Cola Freestyle story by sharing with her – our interaction with an existing energy management service client – a franchise owner of Firehouse Subs locations in Canada. When I asked the franchisee how he felt about Coca-Cola’s IoT solution, his response: ”We love it, our customers love it, he said, I am able to focus more on the front-of-house operations. I have spent more time delivering better customer experience and selling more. They (Coca-Cola) do the rest for us.” Read the April 2019 Firehouse Subs press release regarding the Coca-Cola Freestyle.

Every industry has opportunities like Coca-Cola did and still does. The full value of an IoT solution is only realized when innovative applications are developed that eliminate and prevent waste that occurs throughout the entire value stream.

The IoT provides savvy business leaders the opportunity to reinvent how their products or services are delivered, thus bringing them closer to their customers. Whether you need to create ways that produce stronger and lasting relationships with your customers, or improve your operations and supply chain, the IoT can drive much required business transformation.

My colleague said this is great, “I understand the significant opportunity, but what about the security concerns that business leaders have.” “I said, I am glad you asked. We have done a significant amount of research in this area. We found that there are plenty of IoT service providers in the market that are simply trying to downplay the security threats. We won’t.”

I shared with my colleague that we are working with an IoT technology developer who has been there since the beginning. Their name is NEXIONA. They take a completely different approach to security. They deliver real data privacy and ownership. We have the capability through NEXIONA to deliver completely isolated IoT platforms or blended solutions, whatever meets the security needs of our clients.

I ended the meeting with my colleague by saying, there is a great awakening happening and companies like CocaCola are most certainly early adopters. In my opinion, business leaders who fail to develop an Industry 4.0 and IoT integration strategy for the delivery of their products or services, risk being in the position Pepsi is, trying to play catch up. Or even worse, becoming irrelevant and going out of business. That includes us if we fail to be IoT adoption leaders!

Paul Poirier – Sustainability Services Director with ABATE. Paul has an incredible passion and talent for banishing waste, engaging people, and creating innovative solutions. Paul can be contacted via email:


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