5 Ways The Internet Of Things Can Improve Efficiency

Jackson Frey

The Internet of Things (IoT)—the network of devices connected to the Internet and to each other—is growing at an astounding rate. A report by communication tech company Ericsson estimates that by 2022 there will be around 18 billion Internet of Things devices communicating with each other around the world. This represents an enormous opportunity for businesses looking to operate more effectively and efficiently.

And those increased efficiencies will impact HR departments worldwide. “While humans are still in the center of all these machines, it’s time for HR to up the ante and prepare the workforce for these new waves of technology,” writes Patrick Willer in a post for ERE Media’s Talent Management and HR site.

“Companies are facing another wave of technology that will have a big impact on the way we work. The human resources department is in a unique position to prepare the workforce for this new way of working and to utilize the Big Data generated by IoT,” Willer concludes.

The following use cases will help you anticipate some of the many changes coming our way as IoT acceptance continues to build.

It’s all about the data

Much of the advantage the Internet of Things brings to business is in the form of data. You’ve probably heard of Big Data, a term that refers to the massive amounts of information collected and stored by connected devices. And as big as Big Data was when it first entered the scene in the early 2010s, it’s only getting bigger by the day. That growth is due in large part to the sensors that make up much of the Internet of Things. Companies are using these sensors and devices to gather enormous amounts of information, which they can then leverage to increase efficiency in amazing ways.

Here are five examples of how the IoT is growing efficiency across industries.

1. The IoT decreases maintenance times

Equipment maintenance is an unavoidable part of doing business, but downtime due to maintenance doesn’t need to be. The transportation industry, for example, is using the IoT and Big Data in smart ways to anticipate maintenance needs and take care of issues in more efficient ways. The aim is to address problems before they spiral into costly emergencies.

One of the leading innovators in this space is Rolls Royce. The company builds its Engine Health Management system into its aircraft engines. The system, a combination of sensors and powerful analytics tools, generates and sifts through terabytes of data on every flight, allowing Rolls-Royce to identify issues and plan maintenance well in advance. This helps minimize delays for passengers and keep fuel and other operating costs down for airlines.

2. The IoT helps source public safety data

Another area where the Internet of Things can increase efficiency is in the collection and analysis of public safety data. In this field, time is especially critical. The more difficult and time-consuming it is to gather and assess info, the greater the chances of someone being injured in a disaster like a fire, storm, or avalanche.

The latter is the focus for Mountain Hub (formerly known as Avatech), a startup that was born at MIT and is developing smart solutions to help snow-safety professionals assess avalanche risks. One of the company’s flagship products is the Avatech SP2, a foldable probe that can be inserted into a snowpack to test the structural integrity in seconds. The probe measures the force needed to push it into the snow using pressure sensors, and it displays the info on a screen built into the handle. More importantly, it can sync with a mobile device and upload that data to build a global map of snowpack conditions and avalanche risks based on collected user data.

3. The IoT helps streamline and automate manufacturing

Manufacturing has been heavily impacted by the Internet of Things, with spending on IoT technology expected to reach $70 billion per year by 2020. It’s likely that much of that investment will go toward the same objectives being focused on currently: asset tracking, maintenance, and control room function consolidation.

Many major global manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon, including Harley-Davidson, which has been retrofitting existing equipment in its plants with sensors and a software system to alert managers about potential issues and keep everything running smoothly and efficiently. The company considers the project a success—it has allowed them to stop keeping and maintaining redundant equipment at the plant to serve as backup in case of failure.

4. The IoT helps streamline retail operations 

In the retail world, big names like Walmart and Macy’s are now using IoT technology to streamline operations and allow brick-and-mortar stores to compete with online channels. The tech helps with inventory management, loss prevention, and data gathering on which items are selling and which are taking up space. This allows stores to optimize layouts and make the best use of their limited space.

Macy’s uses a system of RFID tags—tiny connected chips with antennas to broadcast data—that significantly reduces the amount of time and manpower needed to replenish stock and manage inventory. The company places the RFID tags in the pricing labels of merchandise. The tags can then be scanned by employees with handheld units that can grab info from an entire rack of clothes in one pass and then pinpoint the location of items missing from the rack in the stockroom. The system, originally piloted in New York in 2009, is being rolled out to all its locations by the end of 2017.

5. The IoT helps streamline city management

Businesses aren’t the only organizations that can benefit from the Internet of Things. Cities are also using the technology to more efficiently handle common issues, from traffic jams to building maintenance. Europe is leading the pack here, with several major cities working on IoT initiatives.

London is testing a smart parking system designed to speed up the process of finding an available parking space. The city believes this will help alleviate traffic congestion. Another example is Copenhagen, where over 40 percent of the population uses bikes for transportation. The city is using sensors to monitor bike traffic and improve routes.

These are just a few examples—the possibilities the IoT opens for organizations and businesses is tremendous. It won’t be long before any company that wants to compete will have to jump on board. How will that impact your HR department? Are you prepared?

For more real-world examples of how IoT benefits business, see Five Real Business Uses Of The Internet Of Things.

Photo credit: JCT600 Flickr via Compfight cc

 

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Data Analysts And Scientists More Important Than Ever For The Enterprise

Daniel Newman

The business world is now firmly in the age of data. Not that data wasn’t relevant before; it was just nowhere close to the speed and volume that’s available to us today. Businesses are buckling under the deluge of petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes. Within these bytes lie valuable information on customer behavior, key business insights, and revenue generation. However, all that data is practically useless for businesses without the ability to identify the right data. Plus, if they don’t have the talent and resources to capture the right data, organize it, dissect it, draw actionable insights from it and, finally, deliver those insights in a meaningful way, their data initiatives will fail.

Rise of the CDO

Companies of all sizes can easily find themselves drowning in data generated from websites, landing pages, social streams, emails, text messages, and many other sources. Additionally, there is data in their own repositories. With so much data at their disposal, companies are under mounting pressure to utilize it to generate insights. These insights are critical because they can (and should) drive the overall business strategy and help companies make better business decisions. To leverage the power of data analytics, businesses need more “top-management muscle” specialized in the field of data science. This specialized field has lead to the creation of roles like Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In addition, with more companies undertaking digital transformations, there’s greater impetus for the C-suite to make data-driven decisions. The CDO helps make data-driven decisions and also develops a digital business strategy around those decisions. As data grows at an unstoppable rate, becoming an inseparable part of key business functions, we will see the CDO act as a bridge between other C-suite execs.

Data skills an emerging business necessity

So far, only large enterprises with bigger data mining and management needs maintain in-house solutions. These in-house teams and technologies handle the growing sets of diverse and dispersed data. Others work with third-party service providers to develop and execute their big data strategies.

As the amount of data grows, the need to mine it for insights becomes a key business requirement. For both large and small businesses, data-centric roles will experience endless upward mobility. These roles include data anlysts and scientists. There is going to be a huge opportunity for critical thinkers to turn their analytical skills into rapidly growing roles in the field of data science. In fact, data skills are now a prized qualification for titles like IT project managers and computer systems analysts.

Forbes cited the McKinsey Global Institute’s prediction that by 2018 there could be a massive shortage of data-skilled professionals. This indicates a disruption at the demand-supply level with the needs for data skills at an all-time high. With an increasing number of companies adopting big data strategies, salaries for data jobs are going through the roof. This is turning the position into a highly coveted one.

According to Harvard Professor Gary King, “There is a big data revolution. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.” The big problem is that most enterprises don’t know what to do with data. Data professionals are helping businesses figure that out. So if you’re casting about for where to apply your skills and want to take advantage of one of the best career paths in the job market today, focus on data science.

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For more insight on our increasingly connected future, see The $19 Trillion Question: Are You Undervaluing The Internet Of Things?

The post Data Analysts and Scientists More Important Than Ever For the Enterprise appeared first on Millennial CEO.

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About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies.
Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book “The Millennial CEO.” Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter.
Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5).
A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

When Good Is Good Enough: Guiding Business Users On BI Practices

Ina Felsheim

Image_part2-300x200In Part One of this blog series, I talked about changing your IT culture to better support self-service BI and data discovery. Absolutely essential. However, your work is not done!

Self-service BI and data discovery will drive the number of users using the BI solutions to rapidly expand. Yet all of these more casual users will not be well versed in BI and visualization best practices.

When your user base rapidly expands to more casual users, you need to help educate them on what is important. For example, one IT manager told me that his casual BI users were making visualizations with very difficult-to-read charts and customizing color palettes to incredible degrees.

I had a similar experience when I was a technical writer. One of our lead writers was so concerned with readability of every sentence that he was going through the 300+ page manuals (yes, they were printed then) and manually adjusting all of the line breaks and page breaks. (!) Yes, readability was incrementally improved. But now any number of changes–technical capabilities, edits, inserting larger graphics—required re-adjusting all of those manual “optimizations.” The time it took just to do the additional optimization was incredible, much less the maintenance of these optimizations! Meanwhile, the technical writing team was falling behind on new deliverables.

The same scenario applies to your new casual BI users. This new group needs guidance to help them focus on the highest value practices:

  • Customization of color and appearance of visualizations: When is this customization necessary for a management deliverable, versus indulging an OCD tendency? I too have to stop myself from obsessing about the font, line spacing, and that a certain blue is just a bit different than another shade of blue. Yes, these options do matter. But help these casual users determine when that time is well spent.
  • Proper visualizations: When is a spinning 3D pie chart necessary to grab someone’s attention? BI professionals would firmly say “NEVER!” But these casual users do not have a lot of depth on BI best practices. Give them a few simple guidelines as to when “flash” needs to subsume understanding. Consider offering a monthly one-hour Lunch and Learn that shows them how to create impactful, polished visuals. Understanding if their visualizations are going to be viewed casually on the way to a meeting, or dissected at a laptop, also helps determine how much time to spend optimizing a visualization. No, you can’t just mandate that they all read Tufte.
  • Predictive: Provide advanced analytics capabilities like forecasting and regression directly in their casual BI tools. Using these capabilities will really help them wow their audience with substance instead of flash.
  • Feature requests: Make sure you understand the motivation and business value behind some of the casual users’ requests. These casual users are less likely to understand the implications of supporting specific requests across an enterprise, so make sure you are collaborating on use cases and priorities for substantive requests.

By working with your casual BI users on the above points, you will be able to collectively understand when the absolute exact request is critical (and supports good visualization practices), and when it is an “optimization” that may impact productivity. In many cases, “good” is good enough for the fast turnaround of data discovery.

Next week, I’ll wrap this series up with hints on getting your casual users to embrace the “we” not “me” mentality.

Read Part One of this series: Changing The IT Culture For Self-Service BI Success.

Follow me on Twitter: @InaSAP

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Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.


Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?


Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
 
 
 
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
 
 
 
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
 
 
 
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.


There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.


Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.


Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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How Manufacturers Can Kick-Start The Internet Of Things In 2018

Tanja Rueckert

Part 1 of the “Manufacturing Value from IoT” series

IoT is one of the most dynamic and exciting markets I am involved with at SAP. The possibilities are endless, and that is perhaps where the challenges start. I’ll be sharing a series of blogs based on research into knowledge and use of IoT in manufacturing.

Most manufacturing leaders think that the IoT is the next big thing, alongside analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. They see these technologies dramatically impacting their businesses and business in general over the next five years. Researchers see big things ahead as well; they forecast that IoT products and investments will total hundreds of billions – or even trillions – of dollars in coming decades.

They’re all wrong.

The IoT is THE Big Thing right now – if you know where to look.

Nearly a third (31%) of production processes and equipment and non-production processes and equipment (30%) already incorporate smart device/embedded intelligence. Similar percentages of manufacturers have a company strategy implemented or in place to apply IoT technologies to their processes (34%) or to embed IoT technologies into products (32%).

opportunities to leverage IoTSource:Catch Up with IoT Leaders,” SAP, 2017.

The best process opportunities to leverage the IoT include document management (e.g. real-time updates of process information); shipping and warehousing (e.g. tracking incoming and outgoing goods); and assembly and packaging (e.g. production monitoring). More could be done, but figuring out where and how to implement the IoT is an obstacle for many leaders. Some 44 percent of companies have trouble identifying IoT opportunities and benefits for either internal processes or IoT-enabled products.

Why so much difficulty in figuring out where to use the IoT in processes?

  • No two industries use the IoT in the same way. An energy company might leverage asset-management data to reduce costs; an e-commerce manufacturer might focus on metrics for customer fulfillment; a fabricator’s use of IoT technologies may be driven by a need to meet exacting product variances.
  • Even in the same industry, individual firms will apply and profit from the IoT in unique ways. In some plants and processes, management is intent on getting the most out of fully depreciated equipment. Unfortunately, older equipment usually lacks state-of-the-art controls and sensors. The IoT may be in place somewhere within those facilities, but it’s unlikely to touch legacy processes until new machinery arrive. 

Where could your company leverage the IoT today? Think strategically, operationally, and financially to prioritize opportunities:

  • Can senior leadership and plant management use real-time process data to improve daily decision-making and operations planning? Do they have the skills and tools (e.g., business analytics) to leverage IoT data?
  • Which troublesome processes in the plant or front office erode profits? With real-time data pushed out by the IoT, which could be improved?
  • Of the processes that could be improved, which include equipment that can – in the near-term – accommodate embedded intelligence, and then communicate with plant and enterprise networks?

Answer those questions, and you’ve got an instant list of how and where to profit from the IoT – today.

Stay tuned for more information on how IoT is developing and to learn what it takes to be a manufacturing IoT innovator. In the meantime, download the report “Catch Up with IoT Leaders.”

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Tanja Rueckert

About Tanja Rueckert

Tanja Rueckert is President of the Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain Business Unit at SAP.