ogers Communications employs more than 9,000 people between its head office in Toronto and Brampton office alone. When the people at those buildings need food to fuel their work developing cutting edge Internet of Things (IoT) technology, among other things, they find it at in-house cafes operated by Compass Group Canada. Today, the kitchens in those restaurants are using Rogers technology to push the envelope of high-tech food safety.

With internet-connected sensors installed in their coolers, Compass now has available at their fingertips real-time data and analytics detailing the storage temperatures of their perishable food items, allowing them to quickly respond to any issue that threatens food safety or could result in lost product. “Our goal is to be the safest and most innovative food services and hospitality provider in Canada,” says Compass CIO Humza Teherany. “If we have a temperature issue, we can react to it within minutes, and that's unparalleled.”

Not only does this insight provide a marked improvement in safety and quality of food, it also has the potential to result in labour-cost savings. “Monitoring our coolers was a highly onerous, time consuming and highly manual process before,” says Teherany. “When you look at the value of IoT, it could potentially bring back hundreds of thousands of hours per week across the volume of retail we operate. And, we can reuse those hours for consumer benefit.”

"You don't look at the technology on its own, you ask how you can solve your business problems using the best of what's out there.”

For now, this solution is limited to a pilot project at these two offices, but Compass is confident it will pay dividends and is already looking towards rolling out similar systems across a wider segment of their portfolio. “Our ultimate vision is for IoT technology to allow Compass to remotely monitor food product temperature from distribution to storage to consumption ensuring food safety throughout the supply chain,” says Compass Vice President Ian Baskerville.

Looking beyond the nest

Of course, when most of us think of the IoT, kitchens are not the first application that comes to mind. Our earliest introduction to the technology may have come through consumer products and services like Uber, FitBit, and Nest; however, as Compass is showing us, the impact of this technology is going to touch every business sector in the country. “The impact has already proven to be game changing, from overcoming a very specific challenge to re-inventing business models, IoT is creating new growth opportunities for businesses of all sizes,” says Ignacio Paz, General Manager, Internet of Things at Rogers Communications. “Businesses across industries are picking up on the benefits of IoT, from the food and agriculture industry to transportation and health care. IoT is accessible to businesses across the board, so our team is very focused on working with customers to develop strategies for bringing these solutions into their business to help drive outcomes and productivity.”

The most important lesson for businesses looking to leverage this new technology in their own operations is you can't start with a solution and then look for a problem. “This really wasn't about doing IoT for us,” says Teherany. “It was just about making food safety more advanced than the way we were doing it. IoT is the enabler. That's really how companies should be looking at new technology. You don't look at the technology on its own, you ask how you can solve your business problems using the best of what's out there.”

As IoT continues to explode across the business landscape, companies can expect to be surprised by how often they identify a business problem only to realize IoT holds the solution.