A Treasure Trove Of Data: The Riches Of IoT, Sensors, And Connected Goods

Bob Caswell

There’s a precious treasure hidden in your midst, and you may not even know it. Instead of shiny gold medallions that will bring you personal fortune, this treasure consists of data – limitless insight that will help your organization maximize its business value and impact.

To find these riches, you don’t need a raggedy old map with an X that marks the spot. You don’t even need a shovel. The way to retrieve this treasure trove of data is through the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, and connected goods.

Why connected goods continue to soar

Today, you can slap a sensor on virtually anything. And that’s precisely what companies are doing.

From beverage coolers to freezers, coffee makers to vending machines, aseptic containers to industrial silos, more and more organizations are retrofitting their assets with sensors and reaping the rewards of powerful IoT technology.

By 2020, 20 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, according to leading research firm Gartner. But while this trend is most often described in terms of the “sensor” and the “device,” the truth is that those details bury the lead:

It’s the “goods” that matter in the end.

What will this hyperconnectivity tell us about the goods inside the beverage cooler or freezer? The products inside the vending machine? The liquids or raw materials inside the aseptic container? The cement or grain inside the industrial silo?

The sky-high number of “devices,” as predicted by Gartner, shouldn’t surprise anyone. But in reality, that number is orders of magnitude higher when you consider all the goods involved and the subsequent untapped business value. It’s the connected goods that can benefit your business in countless ways, enabled by access to real-time data-driven insight that empowers your enterprise to:

  • Analyze usage patterns, compare trends, view historical data, and accelerate decision-making
  • Increase utilization with remote monitoring, management, and central control capabilities
  • Generate more revenue with enhanced inventory replenishment
  • Improve customer satisfaction by maintaining high product and service quality

Connected goods: For companies in all industries and lines of business

No enterprise is excluded from harnessing the power of connected goods. This emerging technology is generating valuable results for a wide range of organizations, no matter their industry or line of business.

In supply chain, connected goods help logistics providers enhance replenishment processes. For instance, an organization responsible for supplying the cement kept in silos on different construction sites could use sensor data to monitor the condition of the cement, ensuring it remains at the proper consistency and temperature while also knowing exactly when replenishment is required.

In retail, connected goods help companies track customer engagement, improve inventory management, and increase sales. A grocery chain, for example, can deploy smart beverage coolers in its stores, monitoring cooler interaction patterns to identify what time of day shoppers are buying the beverages and how quickly the drinks are being sold. The grocer can then alter where and when it displays its coolers, based on the data, to drive more sales.

These connected containers and beverage coolers provide organizations with real-time insight, so companies can quickly react to changing conditions or resolve adverse issues the moment they arise.

Getting started and getting the goods

Beginning your journey with connected goods is easier than you think. Here’s a simple, three-step guide for getting started and getting the goods from connected goods:

  1. Begin with design thinking: Conducting a discovery workshop is a great way to get self-reflective about your business. Among the questions you should ask yourself in the initial design thinking phase are: What are our pain points? Where are our bottlenecks? What are our concerns about adopting this technology? How can connected goods help our organization?
  1. Evaluate use-case scenarios: The discovery phase continues with a closer look at how connected goods align with your organization’s current strategies and business objectives. Map out precisely what your enterprise aims to achieve with the implementation, and weigh the potential risks versus the rewards.
  1. Launch a pilot program: When you’re finally ready to take your first formal step with connected goods, you can easily start small. In fact, an iterative approach to IoT adoption is often recommended. Try beginning in a contained environment with a potentially low-risk, high-reward scenario.

Bring your treasure hunt for data to an end

Data is the life force for many companies today. The more insight your enterprise has, the quicker it can react to changing conditions, and the more likely it is to succeed in the digital age.

With IoT, sensors, and existing business assets, you can take your millions of offline products and turn them into connected goods that provide your organization with actionable insight and operational intelligence.

In other words, your seemingly never-ending hunt for a treasure trove of data is over. And you didn’t even have to break a sweat.

See what 21 academics, entrepreneurs, engineers, and writers are saying on where they see the Internet of Things is headed. These futurists share the impact they foresee for businesses and for the customers these businesses need to attract, engage, and keep. Download the document.

About Bob Caswell

Bob Caswell is Senior Product Manager of the Internet of Things at SAP.