Leveraging the Internet of Things for Competitive Advantage

The Internet of Things is the next frontier in the digital revolution. It can help companies increase productivity, cut costs, offer new products and services and deploy new business models. But IoT can require extensive integration and skilled staff for implementation. It also often creates new demands around security and interoperability — the capacity for varied computer systems and applications to “talk” with each other. In this paper, experts from Wharton and Dell Digital Business Services examine why companies nevertheless cannot afford to ignore IoT in the digital age to gain a competitive advantage.


Across the world, everyday devices are getting connected to the Internet — thermostats, water meters, home alarms, kitchen gadgets, medical equipment, factory machinery and even cars. Collectively, this ecosystem represents the next frontier in the digital revolution — the Internet of Things or IoT. And unlike the simple automation of machinery, IoT is also mobile and virtual, and features a continuous Internet connection.

The IoT ecosystem consists of data sensors, networks, cloud storage, applications and devices, all working together to help companies and consumers manage their digital lives in a smarter way.
“By converting all passive things around us to active things that share information about themselves, IoT enables us to understand them better than ever before and thereby helps us to bring about huge improvements in everything we do,” says Raman Sapra, global head of Dell‘s digital business services unit. IoT will also drive the next level of digital adoption across consumer industries, manufacturing, supply chain and other areas. “This in turn will result in operational excellence, new revenue models, enhanced employee engagement and a superior customer experience,” he adds.

What does an IoT-enhanced operation look like? In a smart factory, for instance, IoT could lead to better inventory management, improved production processes and faster delivery times. Sensors on the factory floor would constantly transmit data at every step of the manufacturing process to provide operators with information they need to produce a better product and ensure on-time delivery. The incoming business intelligence could even enable a company to proactively send a technician to fix a machine before it breaks down — whether it is a simple washer-dryer or complex jet engine.

Today’s IoT builds on the machine-tomachine, or M2M, communication of the past. Chethan Gorur, global director of cloud application services at Dell digital business services, notes that M2M has been around for a couple of decades. A vending machine can message the distributor when a particular item is running low to signal a need for restocking, for example. But IoT goes beyond M2M, leveraging powerful analytics tools to compile and transmit a lot of data so operators can glean the most relevant bits. And the result is deeper insights than had been previously possible that can be used to transform a business.

The first step of the IoT journey for companies is to identify a clear and realistic business outcome. —Chethan Gorur

John Deere offers a case in point. The company has been making steel ploughs since 1837 and the name brand is synonymous with farming and tractors in the U.S. But beginning in 2012, John Deere embedded new sensors in its products and marketed connectivity as a key product benefit. Today, those sensors provide farms with decision-support information on where to plow, what crops to plant and when to plant. That information is potentially more valuable over time than the tractor pulling the plow.

So unlike in the past, when the amount of data was limited, general in nature and often used simply to detect anomalies on the production line, IoT works in real time to provide massive amounts of data with fine-grain precision if needed. What’s more, it can help synchronize connectivity when it gets integrated into an organization’s enterprise systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and product lifecycle management (PLM).

More at:  http://d1c25a6gwz7q5e.cloudfront.net/reports/2016-03-21-Leveraging-the-IoT-for-Competitive-Advantage.pdf