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Emerging Technologies

The Business of Everywhere

How data from myriad IoT devices is driving unprecedented innovation

By Mike Faden

May/June 2018

Companies are transitioning from exploring the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) to deploying production applications that deliver real business value. They’re harnessing the flood of data from connected devices to achieve specific business goals, whether that means monitoring assets to improve business operations or using real-time production-line visibility to increase manufacturing efficiency.

“Compared to last year, we are starting to see a lot more IoT deployment,” says Harish Gaur, senior director, product management, Internet of Things at Oracle. “Almost every company I talk to has an enterprise IoT initiative in its strategic roadmap.”

To build those production IoT systems, companies are often integrating IoT platforms such as Oracle Internet of Things Cloud Enterprise (Oracle IoT Cloud Enterprise) with existing enterprise applications, enabling them to take advantage of IoT data throughout the business. Furthermore, Gaur says, some companies are using IoT data to develop new services that drive revenue and strengthen customer relationships.

An example is Concentrix, the global provider of strategy, technology, analytics, and high-value white-label customer interactions for some of the world’s top brands, which is building new services for connected cars—widely seen as one of the first IoT markets to really take off.

Headquartered in Fremont, California, Concentrix has more than 120,000 employees in 125 locations; if you call tech support for a major household brand, the odds are you’ll be talking to a Concentrix agent. The company uses Oracle Service Cloud to support those interactions and Oracle Marketing Cloud for marketing functions, including email campaigns.

Concentrix

Industry: Business services

Location: Fremont, California

Oracle products and Services:

  • Oracle Internet of Things Cloud Enterprise
  • Oracle Service Cloud
  • Oracle Marketing Cloud
  • Oracle Social Cloud
  • Oracle CPQ Cloud Service
  • Oracle Integration Cloud
  • Oracle Monetization Cloud
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Concentrix customers include 19 of the world’s major automakers. For several of those manufacturers, Concentrix is developing connected-car applications that generate revenue and provide a natural extension of its core customer-interaction business, according to David Cook, vice president of Connected Car Solutions at Concentrix.

These connected-car applications funnel information from the hundreds of sensors in today’s high-tech vehicles into Oracle IoT Cloud Enterprise, which provides built-in capabilities to connect different devices, analyze data, and integrate with other cloud-based and on- premises applications. Concentrix uses those integration capabilities to make the IoT data available within other Oracle Cloud services such as Oracle Service Cloud, so it can be used to help agents interact with customers and offer targeted services.

Initially Concentrix developed connected-car applications focused on safety and other basic capabilities, Cook says. If a car flips over or is in a collision, for example, sensors detect the accident and generate alerts that are relayed via Oracle IoT Cloud Enterprise to a call center agent, who can quickly see the location and condition of the car, start a voice conversation with the driver, and coordinate with roadside service or 911 emergency services if necessary.

Another application provides remote services such as enabling drivers to find and remotely lock and unlock their car from as much as a mile away by speaking into an app on their phone or smart watch—thus eliminating the age-old problem of locking the keys in the car. A third application lets drivers look up directions on their smartphones and then download the directions to the car’s dashboard navigation system.

David Cook

Initially Concentrix developed connected-car applications focused on safety and other basic capabilities, according to David Cook, vice president of Connected Car Solutions at Concentrix. But the company realized there was the potential for additional services that enable automakers to generate additional revenue.

But Concentrix realized there was the potential for additional services that enable automakers to generate additional revenue from their investment in connected-car technology while increasing car buyers’ satisfaction and strengthening the relationships between driver, manufacturer, and dealer.

For example, Concentrix now summarizes and analyzes each car’s IoT data to produce a monthly vehicle health report (VHR), which is emailed to customers, using Oracle Marketing Cloud. The personalized report gives drivers a clear picture of the health of their vehicle based on real sensor data, including actual mileage and other dashboard information.

The report describes any maintenance and repairs that are needed, combined with relevant dealer service offers, warranty offers, and recall notices based on information from the sensors. That empowers car owners with a list of items that they can take to a dealer’s service shop—thus avoiding potential uncertainty or haggling over the work that actually needs to be done. The report includes links to the dealer’s service appointment system as well as service discount offers, which have helped to increase dealers’ service business, Cook says. The email also includes links to videos that let users explore the vehicle’s connected-car features. More than 56% of recipients open the VHRs, compared with the 10% or less open rate for traditional email coupon campaigns, and click-through rates are also high, according to Concentrix.

With services such as these, automakers have realized that the IoT data from connected cars can be used to deliver a much broader range of benefits, Cook says. “With the IoT data, automakers have the opportunity for greater engagement with the owners of the vehicles, and they’re able to educate them on the vehicle features,” he says.

Accordingly, Concentrix is building advanced applications that will further take advantage of connected-car data to provide other new services and enhance Concentrix’ overall customer interaction business. For example, the company has created an agent screen in Oracle Service Cloud that includes an easy-to-understand visual representation of the vehicle, with icons representing the sensors. If the pressure in one tire becomes dangerously low, an icon turns red. The application can alert the car’s owner and, if necessary, organize a visit by a service technician to fix the problem. Because the problem is automatically flagged by the sensor and transmitted via Oracle IoT Cloud Enterprise, the problem can be diagnosed and fixed even if the car is parked and the owner is away.

“The prebuilt integrations between Oracle IoT Cloud Enterprise and other enterprise applications was a game-changer for us,” says Cook, “enabling us to quickly interconnect services to demonstrate how vehicle data can influence the entire omnichannel customer experience—agent, chat, email, and social.”

With the IoT data, automakers have the opportunity for greater engagement with the owners of the vehicles, and they’re able to educate them on the vehicle features.”– David Cook, Vice President, Connected Car Solutions, Concentrix

With Oracle’s cloud-based software, Cook adds, Concentrix is able to rapidly develop services for new auto-manufacturer customers, typically being able to set up a new service for prelaunch acceptance by an automaker within 90 days. Notably, the cloud has eliminated the time-consuming tasks of building and configuring servers, which previously accounted for much of the time needed to create a new system. “And if we want to spin up new environments to conduct analysis or for a demonstration, it’s easy to create them, use them for several months, and then drop them,” Cook says.

Making Space Better

Whereas connected cars are one of the first IoT use cases, companies in other industries are also now starting to use IoT to drive business value. One of those companies is VINCI Facilities, a major facilities management provider for office buildings and other facilities across Europe. Based in Puteaux, France, VINCI Facilities has 8,000 employees supporting customers in more than 15 countries.

Today, a customer in one of those facilities can report a problem, such as a chilly conference room, via a smartphone or other device using a self-service portal that VINCI created using Oracle Service Cloud. The request generates a ticket that VINCI Facilities uses to track and respond to the problem, dispatching a field technician if necessary.

Now, VINCI Facilities is starting to install IoT devices with the goal of enabling the company to proactively detect, fix, and prevent problems—before users even notice and report them. The data generated by the devices may also generate other business benefits for VINCI Facilities customers, such as reduced energy costs and improved building utilization, says Julien Delbecchi, information system director at VINCI Facilities.

VINCI Facilities

Industry: Facilities management and building solutions

Location: Puteaux, France

Oracle products and Services:

  • Oracle Internet of Things Asset Monitoring Cloud Service
  • Oracle Service Cloud
More

At several customer sites, VINCI Facilities is installing Rubik’s Cube–like devices that sense environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, light level, and noise. Designed to be placed unobtrusively on desks and in other locations, the devices are connected via a low-power wide-area wireless network. Every few minutes, the cubes send updated sensor data to Oracle Internet of Things Asset Monitoring Cloud Service (Oracle IoT Asset Monitoring Cloud Service).

In the initial implementation, Oracle IoT Asset Monitoring Cloud Service monitors the incoming data from the cubes and, based on rules created by VINCI Facilities, automatically generates a ticket if it detects a problem—for example, if a conference room’s temperature drops below a predetermined threshold. VINCI Facilities can then send a technician to fix the problem. “With the IoT sensors, we have a way to improve our business today,” Delbecchi says. “We will be able to detect a trend and improve the issue before customers say they’re too hot or too cold.”

Julien Delbecchi

“With the IoT sensors, we have a way to improve our business today. We will be able to detect a trend and improve the issue before customers say they are too hot or too cold,” says Julien Delbecchi, information system director at VINCI Facilities.

But once more devices are installed and generating data, VINCI Facilities also plans more-advanced services that will analyze trends in the data to deliver a broader range of business benefits, such as optimizing energy consumption.

For example, the system could determine whether a change to the building’s HVAC temperature programming produces the right temperature in meeting rooms during the following week and make adjustments accordingly. By linking to the meeting-room reservation operations, the system might determine that nobody is expected to use the rooms on one side of a building on Friday afternoon, allowing the company to reduce energy consumption by shutting off the heat to those rooms.

Grow Your Data; Grow Your Business

Like Concentrix and VINCI Facilities, a growing number of companies are progressing beyond the IoT proof-of-concept stage and embarking on enterprise deployment. As they do, they’re integrating the information from IoT sensors with other enterprise applications to deliver business value. And increasingly, they’re using IoT to build new business models that provide a competitive advantage. As Oracle’s Gaur puts it, “Companies are getting very creative with the data that they get from their assets—and they are using this data to create new services.”

Next Steps

LEARN more about Oracle Internet of Things Cloud Enterprise.

LEARN more about Oracle Internet of Things Applications Cloud.

TRY Internet of Things cloud services.

Illustration by Pedro Murteira and Photography by Raffi Alexander and Ton Hendriks