Improving Business Efficiency with the Internet of Everything

September 22, 2015
Senior Vice President for New Growth Platforms at Zebra Technologies Corporation

Takeaways

Data is allowing for the growth of new products and services that will make lives easier and streamline processes.


This essay is part of a series of articles relating to the Internet of Everything project. Read more at uschamberfoundation.org/ioe


By Philip Gerskovich

Three big trends are changing information technology (IT) for businesses: mobile workers, cloud applications, and a network of Internet-connected devices called the Internet of Everything (IoE). These trends will require business applications and systems to be available on the go, and more importantly, it requires data to be shared among users, business, and systems.

Increasingly, the bulk of work happens outside the four walls of an organization, but this is an opportunity to drive business efficiencies. The IoE is bringing us into a new industrial age where physical objects are being converted into virtual digital objects, an “Avatar.” The concept of the Avatar drives our approach to the IoE at Zebra Technologies, and it will have a tremendous impact on the economy. This transformation will yield the introduction of new business models and revenue generating opportunities based around the “Pay per use” model and “X as a Service.” Think Uber and Instacart.

We will see more predictive and pre-emptive intelligence and services, which will help improve efficiency and productivity, as well as generate new sources of revenue. Amazon Dash Buttons is a good example. We will also see lots of data sharing.

The devices and components of the IoE generate a significant amount of data, which can be broken down into two types: small and big data.

Small data represent the real-time, bidirectional data that is being generated by IoE devices that require an immediate action or response. Take the manufacturing industry as an example. Small data coming from discrete devices on the plant floor provide early indication triggers to bigger events. Efficiencies in manufacturing focus on streamlining and automating processes. With devices reporting their condition in real-time, manufacturing processes can become automated. Sensor technologies can monitor an assembly line, in turn allowing tools to be automatically calibrated, saving scores of seconds from the traditional processes of manually scanning and adjusting a tool.

Big data, on the other hand, represents an analysis of historical data stored over a predetermined time. The data is captured from the IoE devices and stored on servers, and as the data grows, analysts and systems can develop algorithms that deduce patterns or insights. Once a data trend is established, the creation of models begins. The goal is to use the data models to anticipate what will happen in the future. This becomes incredibly valuable in a constantly evolving environment.

If we consider a manufacturing facility, a model created from a normal manufacturing process could help flag when a faulty product is being manufactured due to a change in particular sensor condition. This is critical for a business that manufactures a mass volume of goods and typically applies Quality Assessment/Assurance after production. With an IoE model built over big data, the assembly line can be halted based on indications that the model has changed.

The way the IoE is leveraged by enterprises and businesses varies substantially by industry and verticals. It is essential for businesses looking to deploy IoE to understand how it can help their business and industry. At this early curve of the IoE, we recommend that businesses start out with pilots and small-scale projects to gauge benefits and understand exactly how it affects their processes and personnel. Businesses should also work with providers to understand what others in their vertical and industry are doing and use those examples as a source of learning and ideation.

Philip Gerskovich is the Senior Vice President for New Growth Platforms at Zebra Technologies Corporation, which builds tracking technology and solutions that generate actionable information and insight, providing customers with visibility into their businesses by giving physical things a digital voice.

 

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or their affiliates.