The Meaning – And Opportunity – Behind The Internet Of Things

Kai Goerlich

By 2030, the digital economy is expected to grow ten-fold. By creating billions of connections between business, people, devices, sensors, data, and processes, this era of hyperconnectivity has great potential.

Despite its promises, the digital economy presents a huge gap between the traditional, industrial approach and an increasingly digital world. At the same time, the chasm between the knowledge society and the new digital economy is only widening. The changes ahead will no doubt alter our economies and societies in ways never seen in the past decades.

From accumulating knowledge to creating innovation

Not too long ago, organizations were highly focused on creating knowledge and making use of it. As businesses digitalized their operations, this process became faster and more open because innovations were expected to be delivered within a shorter time frame.

With the Internet of Things (IoT), companies can seize the full advantage of digitalization by moving away from accumulating and filtering data. Now, they are creating insights and forecasts in real time and driving faster, more-flexible decisions and innovations. Not only does using the network capabilities of the IoT enable more-efficient sharing on the knowledge that was once highly managed and siloed, but it can also create a learning experience that is faster and interactive while accelerating innovation.

From using resources to managing the footprint

Resources are a major competitive factor in today’s global economy, which complicates business operations when once-abundant resources are clearly dwindling. When dealing with issues such as a limited talent pool, rising commodity prices and energy costs, volatile markets for raw materials, and climate change relying on a restrictive analog world is not an option.

Optimizing asset performance in a competitive world

The IoT and Big Data can help companies speed up intellectual work and create shortcuts for faster innovation. By connecting the physical world with the digital world, companies can save precious resources and drive down costs. However, the real potential lies in combining data with human creativity, which leads the way to new business models and new levels of competitive advantage.

Here are five fundamental use cases that can help your business realize the full potential of the IoT:

  1. Strategic asset management: Most companies currently do not own – let alone, maintain – a real-time repository of assets. However, fixed assets can take up as much as one-third of all operating costs. With the IoT, businesses can monitor and use more information than ever. This includes the routing of cars and trucks involved in logistics processes, reducing the downtime of machines through remote maintenance models, and improving logistics and production planning. Sharing assets with partners and opening up IoT data for internal and external use improves performance. But more important, it creates a new path for innovation. 
  1. Customer experience: Reaching out to customers has become easier now that digitalization is radically changing the customer experience. By using IoT as a direct feedback loop throughout the customer journey, businesses can enhance every purchase and interaction experience to transform passive consumers into interactive partners and co-innovators. 
  1. Product and service experience: The IoT is enabling businesses to deliver more proactive and interactive product and services, which are positively influencing the brand experience and the loyalty of every customer. This approach empowers the business to improve products and innovate in a fashion that is constantly in touch with customer needs and wants. 
  1. Environmental scanning: Companies now have a more holistic picture of the world – thanks to the IoT. As decision makers receive information from direct and indirect environments, they can scan the environment for precise navigation, logistics, weather prediction, agricultural planning, and pollution management, for example. By combining this streaming information with existing data, companies can create new insights and develop new products and services. 
  1. Advanced cooperation: Humans are beginning to collaborate with machines in ways only reserved for our imaginations in the past. By expanding their capabilities and increasing efficiency, machines and robots can interact with each other and with humans while forming a new level of infrastructure.

Four IoT-driven business models that deliver opportunity

Whether the business decides to address one of all of these use cases, leaders can open the business to new ways of running its operations and serving its customers. This evolutionary approach to digital transformation creates an opportunity to embrace new business models such as:

4 Business Models Digital Transformation Makes Possible %282%29

By connecting these areas of disruption to a reimagined digital core, every part of your business process is linked together to enable a fluid, nimble, real-time digital business. And for your company, this means a platform for resource optimization and future business innovation.

Hyperconnectivity is changing how business operates. See how companies are adapting to take advantage of the new interconnected world in this brief video: The Hyperconnected Organizations Infographic.

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.