A few months ago, we passed an important milestone:

For the first time in history, the mobile network traffic between machines had a higher volume than the mobile network traffic between humans.

Imagine that... Internet-of-Things traffic surpasses the traffic generated by selfies, pictures of cute cats, text messages as well as all voice traffic in our mobile networks!

Internet-of-Things has been a hot and exciting topic for quite a while, but now we see an important development that accelerates the IoT revolution:

For a long time, the most common application for IoT has been to collect data. Sensors on various devices and machines have generated data, we have used clever technology to gather this data, send it to some central system and make sense of it. Let us call it “from Sensor to Insight”. What we see now is that we still gather data from remote devices and sensors, but the data can be used to trigger action. To execute business processes. Or influence already running processes.

The focus of Internet-of-Things is moving, from “Sensor-to-Insight” to become “Sensor-to-Action”.

This is why we see enterprise software vendors like SAP embrace the IoT revolution. We now have a direct connection between Internet-of-Things and the enterprise systems that support our business processes. As an example, sensors on machine parts at remote locations can be used to build a predictive maintenance process: Data from the sensors is analyzed using a predictive algorithm to determine the need to e.g. replace a part in an engine before a failure happens. A service order to replace the part can be created automatically in our system and a maintenance event scheduled accordingly, anywhere in the world.

Remote sensor data, various systems and human action can interact in a way that was previously unimaginable. Consider a scenario more closely related to our daily lives: A sensor in my electric toothbrush sends a signal to my coffee machine that I’m almost done and it’s time to start preparing my morning espresso. When I grab the cup from the machine, it sends a signal to my car to start the heater, so that I have a warm and cozy car when I finished watching the morning news and leave for work. My TV of course selects my usual news channel as soon as the coffee machine indicates that I grabbed my coffee...

Apply this kind of scenario to our business processes in our enterprise systems and we see that the possibilities are endless. The distinction between sensor data activating business processes and humans running the transactions via a user interface disappears. Enterprise systems like SAP can be as much run by sensor data as it is run by human input.

The future of enterprise computing is closely linked to the Internet-of-Things revolution and the companies that embrace this will gain a competitive edge by re-inventing old business processes and creating new ones. It requires new technology like the power of in-memory computing in products like SAP S/4HANA, but the technical constraints to make it happen are no longer there. Now it’s just up to our imagination.

The Internet-of-Things is moving to become the Internet-of-Everything. Machines, systems and people in close interaction.

(About the author: Per Richtun is an analyst with Capgemini. This post originally appeared on his Capgemini blog, which can be viewed here).


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