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The massive numbers of connected things and the explosion of data generated by connected devices (“things”) has changed the way we do business forever.

With the emergence of smart products, assets, and always-on “things,” we now have access to unparalleled amounts of information. This – along with the evolution of Big Data, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and technologies such as blockchain – is enabling us to converge operational and information technologies to make machines smarter and drive end-to-end digital transformation.

Every “thing” is connected

Today, we live in a world where everything is connected – from the products we buy, to the equipment and assets we use, to the cars we drive, to the places where we work, to the homes in which we live.

We have seen the evolution of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things. And now we are seeing this in everyday life, with sensors on:

  • Things at home, such as washing machines, thermostats, and personal tracking devices
  • Things at work, such as machines in production plants, assets, and equipment
  • Things we travel on, such as trains, planes, and automobiles

Every “thing” is intelligent

As these “things” collect and exchange data, we can leverage the data they provide to make them smarter through built-in machine learning. We can improve how employees perform their jobs in the warehouse, on the production floor, or across the business by leveraging AI. We can use 3D printing to transform the way we think about business processes and reimagine the manufacturing of products.

By moving to an environment where we can leverage the data from these innovations, we can predict patterns, automate processes, and manage by exception.

Every “thing” in the moment

This constant connectivity is resulting in more real-time transactions. As consumers, we leverage omnichannel technology to place orders, anytime, anywhere, and on any device. This ability to order “in the moment” has raised the bar for how quickly vendors are expected to fulfill our orders.

And when we go to work, we expect the same real-time systems, ease of use, and access to information. We want to leverage the Big Data that is now available to not only make real-time business decisions but to automate as many of these decisions as possible.

But we can’t afford to hire armies of data scientists to analyze Big Data to tell us everything is fine. We need to drive predictive analytics and machine learning techniques to enable us to focus on identifying and solving issues when they occur, as well as recognizing patterns and opportunities to increase margins or drive new business processes. To achieve this, we must place Big Data into the proper context to solve business problems.

Every business process needs to be connected to “everything”

IoT creates the ultimate Big Data challenge. Data contains zero value unless it can be turned into actionable insight and integrated into a role-based business context that provides visibility of “everything,” both structured and unstructured.

It is not good enough to rely solely on the business data from the business systems we leverage today. We need to access data from real-time sensors on products, assets, fleets, infrastructure, markets, and people in the field. We must also capitalize on unstructured data, such as customer sentiment, to get a true picture of demand, as well as weather and traffic situations to see the impact of environmental changes on our business processes.

Connect things with people and processes

The journey a company takes to connect things with people and processes is becoming the catalyst for digitalization. IoT is not necessarily new to most companies. But while many can collect, store, and visualize their data, they may not understand what to do next.

We need innovative solutions that enable companies to not only digitalize existing end-to-end business processes but enable them to evolve new business models to run digitally.

Leveraging the Big Data provided from IoT would allow our organizations to create:

  • New business processes
  • New business models
  • New work environments

To learn more about IoT for Business, join me at the SAP Leonardo Live – IoT for Business event on July 11 and 12 in Frankfurt, Germany. Visit this website for additional details or follow @SAPLeonardo for the latest news.

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