Overcoming Connectivity Challenges In The Intelligent Enterprise

John Candish

The intelligent enterprise relies on data to enable it to make intelligent decisions, which in turn enables process automation and innovation. Making any this happen depends on connectivity, which makes the data feeds necessary for intelligent decisions possible.

Enterprises often start small, and before they give much consideration to their long-term connectivity strategy, hundreds of thousands – or millions – of devices are connected in a system that was designed only to serve a few thousand. As a result, rather than being part of the solution, connectivity becomes a major source of complexity and a headache.

Overcoming connectivity challenges requires planning

Let’s take a manufacturing company as an example of connectivity challenges that could arise in the intelligent enterprise and explore ways to solve them.

The supply chain may be distributed throughout the home country or even span many continents. The production environment may also be spread across many sites, with diverse distribution channels and products being used by customers globally.

Connecting components across all these locations will require many different technologies and networks, such as WiFi, low-power wide-area technology, and mobile cellular technology, which are spread across many different providers, even within a single country.

All of these devices will produce vast amounts of data, which in turn will require significant bandwidth to connect back to the intelligent enterprise.

Each network technology has its own interface, a different API, as well as different reporting and billing models – so each will require a separate contract.

The challenge is to manage all the different required connectivity technologies in a way that is simple for the intelligent enterprise, thereby allowing the focus to remain on delivering products and service to customers.

To do this well, it’s important to ensure continuity of service across the connectivity types as well as consistency of control and security.

Business operations must be able to easily monitor the connected state of assets and manage them effectively.

The weakest link: Connectivity can be a distraction if not done correctly

Despite all our modern technology, an old adage still holds true: The intelligent enterprise is only as strong as the weakest link within. One weak link in the process will compromise the intelligent enterprise.

There are three key areas to ensure connectivity does not become a distraction:

  1. Define logistics: How will all the different networks and technology types be handled? Can these be rationalized?
  1.  Stay safe: How will the thousands – and even millions – of entry points to the networks be secured?
  1.  Plan for uncertainty: How can you handle uncertain connectivity? As the intelligent enterprise increasingly depends on real-time information to function at its best, it is vital processes can deal with interruptions in connectivity.

If these questions are carefully considered, IoT connectivity will enhance solutions rather than become a distraction.

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This article originally appeared on The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce.

About John Candish

John Candish leads the global business for SAP IoT Connect 365 for the SAP Digital Interconnect organization His goal is to make connecting IoT devices globally simpler for all enterprises. John has worked in both technical and commercial roles. Prior to his current position, John headed the global business for SAP IPX 365 mobile service for SAP Digital Interconnect.