What is your personal business case for the digital age? And what role do your business partners have to play in it? These tips and suggestions will help you develop your very own Internet of Things (IoT) strategy.
By Wolfgang Möller, Global Director for Discrete Industries
Who would have thought ten years ago that customers would choose their new car based on whether it is compatible with their smartphone? In the IoT age, such details are more decisive in the success or failure of a business model than ever before. Of course, this is a concern for many enterprises. What, then, is the safest and smartest approach to the IoT when the demand for flexibility is on the rise everywhere?
Set Clear Goals
Market conditions and competitors aside, there are two questions that you should be able to give a straight answer to. Firstly: What do you aim to achieve with your digital initiative? Perhaps you want to improve your customer service. Or you might be looking to cut costs. Or maybe you want to launch a new product that is like nothing else on the market. Without a clearly defined goal, IoT projects will either come to nothing or remain as one-offs with no lasting benefits.
This brings us to the second question: Do you want to optimize internal processes, i.e., adapt your manufacturing processes as part of an industry 4.0 initiative and integrate intelligent devices into your logistics and management control systems? Or would you like to transform your company’s external relations by using the IoT to change the way you collaborate with business partners? Both paths can prove beneficial depending on your long-term goals, your company’s strengths and weaknesses, your market, and the current situation.
New Networks and Partnerships
I personally think that the potential to connect with business partners for to developing new business models is much higher, but of course more challenging. Imagine an offshore oil rig where every pump is equipped with a variety of sensors and transmits data relentlessly. “That’s nothing special,” you might say. But this scenario becomes interesting when everyone involved uses the data, rather than just the rig operator. Let us assume that the sensor data from all pumps and components ends up on one central platform that can also be accessed by the component manufacturers and the maintenance company. And let us also assume that the pump manufacturer can not only use the data from this particular oil rig, but rather that from any location where his products are in use. In this case, the manufacturer can identify the conditions under which a device works best and share this knowledge with the rig operator. Everyone benefits from this exchange of knowledge—including the service technicians, who can use this information to perform predictive maintenance, for example.
Example: How Intelligent Networks Function in the Internet of Things
The SAP Asset Intelligence Network enables exactly the above scenario. Using the platform, you can aggregate sensor data without middleware and feed it into an existing IT system. The data is then shared with business partners via the cloud. Of course, no enterprise wants to give others unrestricted access to their systems—but, with an intelligent cloud network, this is not necessary. Each partner only gains access to the information that it needs. Moreover, this information is stored in the IT provider’s data center—on neutral ground, so to speak.
Think in Terms of Benefits
An IoT scenario such as the one described in this post can be very effective—provided all companies involved stand to generate real value from it. In general, you should not embark on an IoT project before you have identified clear economic benefits. A ‘me-too’ approach will not achieve anything. Creative teams that are encouraged to think outside the box often prove useful in developing good ideas. The ideas do not necessarily have to be huge and revolutionary—sometimes it is the little innovations that help you calm the IoT fears amongst your employees and win them over. At itelligence, we offer workshops to support your company’s individual IoT initiative.
One thing is for certain: The IoT will never be a ready-made “product” that you can simply buy. It is something that you must design yourself.
But is that not much more interesting?
Talk to our experts about the IoT’s potential, and we will help you plan a strategy that benefits you and your customers. Please contact us for more information.
-Wolfgang Möller, Global Director at Discrete Industries, itelligence AG –