Consumer Innovation is Driving Enterprise Transformation

Written By: Piet Vandaele | Date:
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This is a guest blog post written by Laura Merling and was originally published on LinkedIn.

The best-kept secret of today’s IoT world is that enterprises are taking advantage of connected consumer technology to transform their business.

Technology innovation has often started with enterprise use and moved to the consumer market. IBM mainframes to Apple Macs or Cisco Telepresence to Skype are just a couple of examples.

At this year’s CES there were discussions of a lull in innovation, and of slower than expected adoption. No surprise; consumer gadgets take time and dollars. Hardware, firmware, and software make up a complex system. Adoption can be slow due to the complexity of integration – e.g. the connected home – or pricing that does not match perceived value.

Complexity and value are not an issue with large companies. Enterprise technology organizations are comfortable with integration – it is what they do. Companies seek automation to reduce costs or transform business models; time is money. We can see this by the momentum and investment being allocated in companies across industries into the Internet of Things (IoT). Industry giant GE with it’s Predix platform is one example. Honeywell, Rockwell, and Schneider Electric are all looking to drive efficiency and transform their business. To consumers, the value of automation is not always immediately apparent.

Let’s look technologies on display at CES from an enterprise view. Take wearable fitness monitors and smartwatches. We may want to track calories, heart rate, and other interesting things with wearable jewelry – but adoption has been limited to a subset of consumers. The selling point needs to be stronger for consumers to adopt in mass.

In the enterprise, however, a smartwatch or fitness tracker could be used in safety situations. Proximity safety – wear a device that sends a signal when you are too close to a piece of machinery to automate shutting it down or stopping a collision. Air quality – tracking heart rate and movement to ensure an employee in an oil refinery is safe. Investment might need to be made – and making it independent from the phone – but there is value to the wearable. Companies will pay for that value.

Breathalyzers: another CES item positioned as a consumer product. While we want individuals to be responsible, and we can clearly save lives by tying them to the car – what will the near-term adoption really be for individuals? In the enterprise, some industries (such as transportation, construction, and manufacturing) are required to administer random drug and alcohol tests in the field. These tests can be expensive and complicated or inconvenient. Add a gadget to a smartphone and collect the data digitally. Companies can simplify the process, reduced cost, improved compliance and increased safety.

Amazon’s Alexa was noted as the star of CES. We all would love the convenience of turning on and off the lights, closing the garage door, or turning on our car with our voice; finally the Jetson’s era has arrived.

In a business context natural language speech has tremendous value. Automating an assistant in the retail aisles could improve customer service. When you cannot locate the item you need at Home Depot, Alexa can. Combine a smart watch application with Alexa to enable voice-based search for maintenance records and parts inventory or logging a service note, all while making the repair. Better use of time, and better service records.

The list could go on – use your imagination. From heads up display helmets for mining or construction, to augmented reality glasses for maintenance activities. Both could provide employees with information in context. Smartwheel, a technology that prevents accidents caused by distracted driving, could be used for bus drivers, taxi services, or transportation environments to prevent texting while driving. And of course, we cannot forget drones. Beyond same day delivery, companies are looking to leverage these devices in agriculture for land survey and crop evaluation.

We are now in an era where the consumer innovation is the foundation for innovation inside an enterprise. In 2016 and beyond we will see further adoption of consumer technology in the enterprise – with an enterprise bent – of course.

This blog was written by guest author Laura Merling and was originally published here on Linkedin

Piet Vandaele

Co-founder and CEO @Waylay, background in IoT/M2M and telecom. Piet holds a PhD in applied sciences and an MBA degree. When he is not busy building IoT solutions, he enjoys reading classic novels.


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