How to Create Business Value with IoT, Machine Learning, and Blockchain

Organizations have found a lot of new value for themselves and their customers over the past year, thanks to Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, blockchain, and other SAP Leonardo technologies.

These successes usually result from a focus on solving a specific problem — and they often lead to the creation of new business models.

“Last year, we said a combination of maturing technologies — IoT, machine learning and blockchain — would help reimagine business processes,” SAP CEO Bill McDermott said during his opening keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW this month. “Today, SAP Leonardo is on the front lines of next practices in 25 distinctly different industries.”

These frontlines could be delivering a better customer experience (CX), such as ensuring that in-demand products are in stock or minimizing downtime of crucial business assets. They all involve adding business value, and some even teach us more about our customers.

What Machines Can Teach Us About People

IoT sensors within a rental car, for example, could tell the rental car company a lot about the people driving their cars, including how careful — or reckless — they are. Machine learning technology can use this information to help the company create better targeted campaigns, determine the best vehicles to buy in the future, and even lower insurance premiums for companies that rent to the safest drivers.

“This instantly will bring value to my customer — he pays a better price — but this also brings value to me as a rental car company,” SAP’s Michael Benirschka said in an SAP video that showcases SAP Leonardo technology. “It must, from the very beginning, be able to have scalability, feasibility desirability; always imagine how it can create new business opportunity for you.”

New opportunities include selling data and insights to interested third parties. Transparent and immutable blockchain data from hundreds of rental cars, for instance, could help car manufacturers design better products, or help service providers improve maintenance schedules.

SAP Leonardo is also at work on factory floors.

How Small Sensors Prevent Big Problems

“There was a real business problem: These machines went down a lot,” Jeff Mueller, vice president and CIO of Pregis LLC, said during a SAPPHIRE NOW panel discussion. “They were heavy and hard to repair.”

IoT sensors helped the container and packaging provider spot small issues, such as a tank running low on fluid, before they became big problems, according to Mueller. This reduced field service trips for maintenance crews — and reduced costs. The success of SAP Leonardo in this business segment will lead to roll outs in Pregis’ other segments — and open other opportunities.

“Eventually we’ll move to creating a new market and different revenue models,” Mueller said. “As you capture consumption, you share that information with your customers … and they’re able to manage waste and different things through these machines.”

Other applications include hospitals and warehousing, as well as keeping track of shoppers and inventory on a retail sales floor.

Now You Can See the Light

Acuity Brands teamed up with SAP to ensure that the most profitable items in a brick-and-mortar retail store are the first ones restocked on the shelves. The lighting manufacturer combined data about customer activity, SKU profitability and turnover with foot-traffic data from beacons and sensors within retail store lighting systems, which revealed where people are moving — especially in relation to best sellers.

“By taking those data sources, we were able to calculate an impact score that basically lets us prioritize which items we need to restock first, based on the risk of lost profits,” Greg Carter, senior vice president of IoT Atrius Platform at Acuity Brands, said at SAPPHIRE NOW. “That creates a dashboard checklist for the store manager to make it really easy for him to prioritize and achieve his own KPIs.”

This, in turn, makes it really easy for the customers to find what they’re looking for, which enhances their customer experience.

Narrowing Your Focus — and Your Data

This can all seem overwhelming, especially for those yet to begin their digital journey. The trick is focus on something small, such as solving an exact problem.

“You do have to get very narrow with the data; the true power of SAP HANA is that real-time intelligence,” Bradley Burt, lead partner SAP at Deloitte Australia, said during a panel discussion at SAPPHIRE NOW. “The real value is that real-time information that you get from bringing that very, very granular data down to an individual item.”

This story originally appeared on SAP Innovation Spotlight. Follow Derek on Twitter@DKlobucher