Blogs • 12 Feb 2018

Blending future and business today. Hi there, IoT!

This article will give you some detailed IoT insights, beyond the buzzword, using a concrete business example. You'll face some challenges and opportunities, followed by our solution, build using SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Leonardo, to elaborate interesting business cases to transform your company.

  1. What is the Internet of Things
  2. How does the Internet of Things benefit your business?
  3. Theoretic data leverage: How sensor data leverage businesses
  4. Realistic business example
  5. Challenges and opportunities  
  6. A solution to the challenges
     

First things first, what is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things, IoT in short, is the collection of all devices connected to each other through the Internet. These devices sense their environment and make (our human) life easier. All the information they sense is sent as data to a server through the internet or passed in another way.
 

How does the Internet of Things benefit your business?

As of today, we collect data about our morning runs and compare the results in Strava, Runtastic or any other hipster tool. But that has nothing to do with business (unless you’re Strava or Runtastic).

Sure, Internet of Things still has a barrier or two to overcome. But with current technology, it’s only a matter of years or less for it to appear in every part of society. The Internet of things will take your business to a higher level. Not your business you say? Any business. More specific: any part of any business. IoT projects are implemented today and their number will grow every month.

Retail. Customer service. Maintenance. Project management. HR. Team building and company culture. Your day-to-day work will be impacted in many ways. We saw examples of the Internet of Things bringing productivity, joy and most of all: data. Everything that can be measured, will be measured. To your business, this means you can make adjustments and alter your strategy in the best-informed way possible. The gut feeling will be something of the past. All hail the data.

And if you can leverage the data from your business, your innovations will win. You will win. Because of this data, you will go from reactive over proactive to predictive. You will be able to foresee issues. You can solve problems before they occur.

 

How (sensor) data leverage businesses

Building better products

The whole lifecycle of your product can be mapped with sensor data. How your product is transported, how long it stays in storage, what bumps it had to take in the transportation van, how long it took before the battery runs out and where your consumer is taking it. All this data can be shown on a dashboard, powered by data from all your products.

Getting to know what you don’t know you don’t know

By organizing, normalizing and unification of all this data, it will be easier to spot trends and draw conclusions from your business processes. You will be able to analyze the entire process and get to know new insights. New knowledge about specific parts you don’t know yet they are invaluable for the rest of the process. 
 

Realistic business example

It’s great to dream and philosophically discuss the possibilities of the internet of things. But you’re interested in the real-world cases of tomorrow. Of the not so far future. Here is one.

Connected cars

Cars haven’t really evolved too much since Henry Ford brought them to the people. We still use them to go from A to B, while we drive them ourselves and every now and then they break. We are in traffic jams a lot and accidents still happen every day.

What if we could make our cars smarter, not faster? What if the car would sense its surroundings and itself? What if your car would know what happens around it?

When a car is equipped with sensors, it will take into account its surroundings. The car will know where you want to go (because you use the GPS) and will tell you if there is a traffic jam ahead. An alternative route will be suggested and your meeting partners will get a message. Your car will make the world a better place, by knowing your driving. Since the car will warn you for speeding, hitting objects and getting out of your lane, your driving will become safer. Traffic will become safer. Everybody benefits. When a car is equipped with sensors, any of its parts can connect and report to the headquarters. The sensors will notice when some part is wearing down faster than another. The car will sense the tire pressure dropping or notice how much petrol is being used.

The car will evolve from a vehicle to take us from A to B into a smart object that recognizes its surroundings and will react to it.

But that’s not the real power. That’s just the hardware, and every new car today already has these sensors. But that’s not the complete Internet of Things picture. It becomes (powerful) IoT when the data from these sensors is accumulated in a big data platform.

It’s unprecedented powerful to predict the wear down of an engine. To tell the customer when they should go to the garage. To know what parts are the Achilles heel of your cars, intentionally or unintentionally. Imagine a world where you get an automatic appointment in your calendar to go to the garage. An appointment made by your car.

 

Challenges and opportunities

The Internet of Things is already here on some levels. Everything can be connected with everything. With everyone. This brings a lot of opportunities and challenges we have to face tomorrow. Together.

Hardware investment

Companies that want to use IoT technology will face some challenges. On the one hand, investments will have to be made in new hardware that is IoT-enabled. It won’t be sufficient to just apply a few sensors in a car and call it a day.

Companies will need to think through their complete production process, any level of their product and the management of resources and assets. Which extra information will be useful? What should be measured? What’s the cost of the investment and what’s the return on investment? But most important: what data do we need to grow?

Big data strategy and implementation

A great opportunity that comes with the Internet of Things, is an update of the technological platforms. Since sensor data send small but frequent packets of data, a big data strategy will have to be put in place first to figure out what to do with all that information. Having a big data platform, that has the right analytical capabilities to enable predictive service maintenance processes will be key to that strategy. Only when the collected data can be leveraged to information sensors are useful.

The entire process of organizing, normalizing and unification of data, analytics, in short, is the mere challenge for any business around the world. The firehose of data is coming your way and it’s better to know how to respond to it.

Security and privacy

Assuming that “anything that can be connected will be connected” there are many examples where this connectedness is beneficial. However, as always, endless opportunities come with a price. How can a fully connected world guarantee your data is still secure?

Imagine what happens when the sensors in the brakes of your connected car have been hacked. And the hacker is able to send a brake signal to your engine? Or when the connected meeting room exposes the complete company network infrastructure? Not to mention data leaks through the watercooler or the coffee machine.

Privacy and security challenges we have today are only a pale introduction to the complexities organizations will face with the spread of IoT, when we are talking about many billions of devices being connected. Many companies will have to face the massive amounts of data that all of these devices are going to produce and share and they will have to figure out a way to store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated.
 

A solution to the challenges

The biggest challenge is to integrate all these challenges into one solution. SAP Leonardo is an industry’s take on this. Big data flows into easy-to-understand analytics, machine learning blends with IoT and blockchain becomes part of company-wide design thinking.

SAP Cloud Platform scales on all levels and lets you prototype the complete strategy and data structure. It’s fully customizable and helps you to turn any data challenge into a business opportunity. SAP Leonardo is the digital innovation system: it connects seamlessly people and business with sensors, it collects and tracks data and will help to analyze this. An informational report will be summarized in any detail needed.

Our Amista Innovation team knows SAP Cloud Platform and Leonardo by heart. We are able to translate problems into Leonardo solutions. Integrated. Embedded. Easy-to-consume. Because of the flexibility of the platform, we prototype fast so we can show you the power of the solution.

Want us to leverage your business data into more business?