How 30 Billion IoT Connections Will Build Future Industries

With IDC research predicting there will be 30 billion connected endpoints by 2020, it’s pretty certain Internet of Things (IoT) will invade every industry.

I saw an amazing proof of concept that showed how sensor data from IoT can connect with information across devices and systems to change how organizations operate, including airports. You can watch the demo in my video interview with Tom Kurtz, vice president of IoT Business innovation, at SAP TechEd Barcelona.

“The goal is to bring the power of operations technology to enterprise data. We chose an airport because it’s something most people understand,” said Kurtz. “Companies in every industry are under tremendous pressures from customers to keep up with new expectations. Everyone has easy access to information and demands a seamless buying experience.”

Making the Right Connections

Like just about every business, managing an airport involves tremendous amounts of data touching every aspect of operations — from flights and passengers to vehicles and other equipment on the tarmac, and to revenue levels at retail stores and kiosks inside the terminal. The demo showed how sensors on a forklift alerted an operations manager to its low battery. Connecting data from telematics and the enterprise using SAP Vehicle Insights on SAP Cloud Platform yielded high-efficiency insights.

“As an airport operations director, I have many vehicles in play, and it’s not just about recognizing an imminent problem from a low battery,” said Kurtz. “Blending operations technology data with enterprise data, I can take action to prevent further downstream impact. If this forklift becomes non-operational, I know what orders it affects, and I can switch those to another piece of equipment to prevent downtime and delays.”

Airports as Shopping Malls

Kurtz didn’t have time to run through two other real-time scenarios that seemed equally compelling. One allowed operations managers to link heat maps that measure security wait times to workforce staffing levels and another mapped flight delays to passenger traffic near video monitors and wifi hot spots that would allow retailers to make offers for a more enjoyable wait.

“Capturing physical data is an extension of company business processes,” said Kurtz. “When you tie security wait times to workforce planning you can increase or reduce staff based on what you’re seeing in the physical world. Airline passengers are also retail consumers. Heat mapping traffic patterns to available channels can increase the marketing effectiveness of a solution like SAP Hybris.”

At @SAPTechEd, the airport of the future showcased what’s possible across industries using #IoT, machine learning, and blockchain

Industries of the Future

Kurtz said the airport of the future was a showcase for what’s possible across industries using innovations like machine learning, IoT, and blockchain from SAP Leonardo.

“Many people who’ve seen this demo aren’t managing airports,” said Kurtz. “One who was eager to find out more actually operated shopping malls. Another person was a retirement fund manager who saw direct relevance of this approach to solve timing issues in his company’s call center operations. Manufacturers need to manage facilities, logistics organizations need to manage fleets, consumer products companies need to track refrigerated beverages when they’re en route and after delivery to retail outlets.”

Future scenarios include augmented reality, where companies can have sensors on equipment mapped to their mobile device and display real-time analytics.

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