Every major technological revolution has profoundly changed the way we live and the way we conduct business even if we don’t always realize it at the time. The internet has created an entire business function known as e-commerce. Today’s technological advancement created much more than just media exchanges that transcend beyond space.  We are now living in a connected world, where everything is connected from machine to machine. The reality that was once unimaginable, it is now becoming a new norm and the new force that pushes real business values.

For some early adopters, waking up and programming daily activities will be more like setting up a single ‘time device’ where our alarm clock is auto-programmed with seamless synchronization to our media calendar.  It triggers wake up tunes and the coffee machine timing without us having to worry about turning it on/off.  Our home’s lighting and temperatures are instantaneously adjusted according to our movements and needs.  The minute we step outside of our house, we are transported in an energy optimized car that’s connected with smart meters and apps. The connected car points us to open parking spot and electric charging station and we can settle payment with virtual/mobile wallet. Welcome to the new era of Internet of Things (IoT), a revolutionary disruption that has changed our personal lives and businesses.

The IoT has created a quantum leap in the vastness and variety of connected things.   In fact, it’s predicted there will be more than 50 Billion connected things by 2020. In the recent 42nd Annual Silicon Valley Electric Vehicle (EV) Parade, SAP managed to pull participation from 507 EVs and was nominated as the proud holder of the Guinness World of Records for the largest electric vehicle parade!  The innovation in connected car has gone beyond just a luxury for a few elites, but showcasing such technology has the ability to scale with solid infrastructure to connect, operate and maintain.   Gartner emphasizes that ‘beginning to adopt the first phase of IoT is important if businesses wish to capitalize the opportunities arise from IoT when it’s fully developed’.  In business term, this is not just about creating something new and interesting, but the first step could be as simple as looking at the existing technology infrastructure and by start optimizing it.

What could be potentially opened up by embracing the IoT?  Due to the digitization and convergence of big data, mobile and innovative cloud, IoT has been the heart of transformation for many business industries.  Firstly, transformation to drive efficiency and innovation is the core of technological evolution. Whether it’s about streamlining enterprise performance, risk management,  customizing marketing interaction or aligning global corporate policy, the IoT removes many physical boundaries and accelerates innovation. In Retail industry, Zara pioneered in Fast Fashion, a unique and highly successful supply chain strategy by leveraging connected technologies, sophisticated data management and more importantly, their customers. Buying trends and opinions of customers are gathered daily by personnel in each store using customized hand-held devices and sent through to a central design team which uses this information to create 1000 new designs every month.

Secondly, the IoT drives scales and growth especially when delivering business value.  There is a strong co-relation between ongoing business development practices with the role of IoT in supporting data-driven, iterative and co-creative innovation.  SAP launched Startup Focus as a global program to help promising startups in the Big Data, predictive and real-time analytics space develop new applications on SAP HANA and accelerate market traction.

Lastly, it’s not just about things or assets but also people. Whilst the IoT creates new revenue model and opens up new global business opportunities, it also accelerates insights and improves people’s lives.  The IoT technology helps the urbanization program in fast-growth countries like China, raising many SMEs companies and employment opportunities. On healthcare, the real-time analytical capability helps with environmental data and preventive cares.  On Telco, SAP’s outlined the IoT plans aimed at assisting telecom operators who work with enterprises in verticals such as automobile, retail, energy, healthcare and manufacturing.

Whether it is a connected car, connected home, or connected retail, what’s ahead of us with the IoT is unprecedented.   And like many of our customers, if  you are in the business of staying ahead and winning with a competitive edge, start looking into the opportunities presented by the IoT now.  And it only takes a few smart decisions to get “connected”.

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