IoT And The 6 Categories Of Connected Things

Nils Herzberg

The Internet of Things (IoT) involves connected products, assets, fleets, infrastructures, markets, and people. In this series of blogs, we’ll address each of these connected aspects in turn.

The fog is lifting on IoT. Three years ago when I talked about IoT, people looked at me like I was crazy. Today when I talk about IoT, they fill the room, because they recognize the possibilities for new innovations and better business outcomes.

Of course, as our appreciation of the possibilities for IoT has progressed, so has our appreciation of the challenges:

Device management — How do we onboard and offboard devices, and how do we manage data as devices volunteer data to cloud-based platforms?

Semantic standards — How do connected things describe themselves to the IoT ecosystem, including details like device type, serial number, and environmental factors like location and temperature?

Security — Has the device been tampered with, has the transmission of data been listened to, and has the message been delivered?

IoT across the enterprise

As we address these challenges, we need to keep in mind the categories of things that can be connected by IoT. At SAP we’ve identified six categories of connected things that span the enterprise: products, assets, fleets, infrastructures, markets, and people.

Your interest in each category will vary depending on where you sit in the value chain; for example, a maker of a connected product will be interested in different data, for different reasons, than the user of that connected product. And the order in which you address each category will vary depending on your business priorities. But in the next three to five years, you’ll need to focus on all of these:

Connected products — From connected consumer-level coffeemakers to connected industrial pumps, this category enables end-to-end visibility into product-centric operations. It also promises improvements or even transformation around issues like regulatory compliance and product serviceability.

Connected assets — In contrast with connected products, this category involves high-value, long-lived equipment such as aircraft and industrial machinery. Connected assets link production systems with manufacturing and maintenance processes to increase asset uptime and reduce operational and repair costs.

Connected fleets — This category is all about tracking, monitoring, analyzing, and maintaining any assets that move — from trucks to ships to construction equipment — wherever they appear in the network. Extracting data from mobile equipment has been difficult and expensive, so the promise here is immense.

Connected infrastructures — From software networks to power grids to buildings, the majority of IoT sensors are likely to end up in connected infrastructures. This category will deliver new forms of digital operational intelligence to transformation physical systems. The goals will be to drive economic growth, improve service, and allow for more effective and efficient operations and risk mitigation.

Connected markets — Markets apply to any activity that involves physical space, from retail centers to farms to cities. IoT can help cities, rural areas, and other markets to optimize use of assets and natural resources; reduce energy usage, emissions, and congestion; and improve efficiency and quality of life.

Connected people — This category focuses on improving work, life, and health by linking people and communities, enabling organizations to evolve into new business models, and delivering better lifestyle experiences.

These six categories cover the breadth of connected things that will result in a connected enterprise. Their unifying feature is that they require a common platform. If data is the oil of the 21st century, then the platform is the refinery — capturing data, analyzing it, converting it to insights, and triggering workflows that lead to desired outcomes.

Effective IoT connectedness requires a unifying foundation. SAP has addressed this need by introducing SAP Leonardo Internet of Things portfolio, innovative solutions designed to help organizations digitally transform existing processes and evolve to new digital models. Learn more by reading about real-world use cases, visiting, attending our flagship event Leonardo Live this July 11–12 in Frankfurt, and following us on Twitter at @SAPLeonardo.



About nilsherzberg

Nils Herzberg is the SVP at SAP and Global Co-Lead who is co-responsible for defining and driving the Go-to-Market for the Internet of Things.