Imagine driving to work and an alert flashes on your console indicating that your windshield wipers need to be replaced. You had noticed that things were a bit streaky the last time it rained, so you agree that it may be smart to buy replacements. Moments later, you receive a text message offering a price-match guarantee for the proper wiper blades from the car dealership where you bought your car. Meanwhile, an email with a proposed appointment for a quick installation at the dealership is waiting in your inbox. This calendar invite is booked at the optimal time based on your schedule and the dealership’s availability. And don’t forget, there’s impending torrential rainfall forecasted late in the week so it is recommended to get in sooner rather than later. Seems like some crazy futuristic scenario doesn’t it? The reality is, this is all possible today.

New Picture (1).jpgJust like looking through a rain spotted windshield, the concept of the Internet of Things can be quite unclear. It is especially unclear because a lot of the technology and applications that will change the world may not even be invented yet. Now there’s some food for thought! At this point you may be wondering, “What is the Internet of Things exactly?” To answer this, you must first consider who and what is currently connected to the Internet. Not only are mobile devices outnumbering people, but increasingly, we own devices that connect to the Internet on their own. For example, you may use a Nike FuelBand to track your fitness endeavors. To keep your home at the optimal temperature, your thermostat might adjust itself based on weather and/or the trends you have set by constantly adjusting it. You can see understand now how there are billions upon billions of “things” connected to the Internet. It is estimated that 50 Billion “things” will be connected to the Internet by 2020. Imagine that all of these “things” can communicate and respond to one another assuming that they are related in some way. Take a break here, this concept can be a lot to digest.

There are three main actions to consider now that we have a general feel for the magnitude of the Internet of Things. These three components shed light on how capitalize on the Internet of Things. Let’s keep it as simple as possible. Acquire. Analyze. Act.

  • Acquire: All of these “things” that are connected to the Internet are generating data. Lots of data. It is great to have data, but how do you capture it, store it, cleanse it and manage it? What about real-time manipulation? In the windshield wiper example, sensors and various records make data available, but the importance lies in marrying the appropriate data to make it valuable.
  • Analyze: Now that the data is captured and structured, it means nothing until questions can be answered and outcomes are presented. For the wipers, the opportunity of selling new windshield wiper blades and increasing customer satisfaction simultaneously was recognized thanks to analysis of the various data streams.
  • Act: The data provided information and the information leads to decisions that need to be made. Making the best business decision is quite a bit easier with millions of refined data points at one’s command. The price-match offer was sent out, the appointment was set, and the customer will hopefully spend some time in the dealership showroom looking at car accessories and/or a new car as the wiper blades are switched.

This is just one example of how the Internet of Things can be embraced for business benefit. SAP is primed to get businesses ready for the ever evolving Internet of Things. SAP can serve as the fresh set of blades that can help clear up that rainy windshield. With solutions like SAP HANA, Sybase Event Stream Processing, SAP Business Intelligence and SAP’s Mobile Platform, SAP covers the scope of Acquire, Analyze, and Act. SAP can help organizations in all industries and of all sizes seize the innumerable opportunities presented by the Internet of Things.

Now that you’ve scratched the surface of the concept, what do you make of the Internet of things? How could you see this impacting your life or your organization? If you have the time, it is worth watching Steve Lucas’ keynote presentation at the Internet of Things World Forum. As with any major trend, there is a lot to learn. Hope you enjoyed the read, and seriously consider getting those new wiper blades installed!

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