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9 Keys to Harnessing the Power of IoT and AI

Guest Author

Author : Eric Prevost


Is artificial intelligence (AI) the “new electricity”? Andrew Ng, co-founder of online learning platform Coursera and Stanford University professor, says AI is poised to transform society similar to the way electricity changed the world.  


The Internet of Things (IoT) with embedded AI is powering the 4th Industrial Revolution. The pace of change is swift and requires that manufacturers adopt new business models to remain competitive. In many cases, consumers are driving some of these changes. For instance, auto manufacturers are adapting their vehicles to meet demand for the ride-sharing market, including the ability to request autonomous vehicles on-demand using an app.


The current environment creates potential growth for manufacturers, but it also poses challenges they must address to bring these technologies to market. We’ve identified nine key strategies manufacturers should adopt to maximize the value of IoT and AI.

 1. Define a business case.

An IoT strategy must begin with a clearly defined business case. For instance, auto manufacturers may rely on IoT to create new business models around autonomous cars, including ride-sharing networks and personalized insurance policies based on driving behaviors. To identify these opportunities, you must have real-time data access.


2. Select a cloud platform.

Leveraging data requires an open, secure, reliable, and scalable platform. Manufacturers need cloud partners that provide systems that are flexible enough to analyze large volumes of data from connected devices in real time. It should be a platform that’s accessible and intuitive enough for use by multiple users across the organization, including management and executive decision-makers.


3. Scale quickly.

Adopting an IoT/AI strategy makes little sense for one-time use, so be sure you can scale up quickly. There is no value in developing a proof of concept if it’s not scalable because the process will require investment to redesign what you built. Scalability is critical for future business growth.


4.  Access real-time data.

The next step is to connect people, machines, and processes to enable real-time data collection. Old or outdated data doesn’t provide a full picture of what’s happening in the field. Manufacturers need immediate data so they can provide real-time services.


5. Capture as much data as possible.

Don’t be afraid to capture “useless” data. That’s the whole point of using AI: Large volumes of data are gold mines for AI because the system is able to sort through and identify relevant data that humans are typically not capable of analyzing.


6. Connect the IoT data to AI.

Manufacturers derive value-creating insights from their IoT data after they connect it to the AI system. Sensing devices from the field stream data to the AI system, which analyzes the information to produce actionable business insights and can help you dive deep into the unknown world of unused data. It can also help you identify thresholds and alerts based on abnormalities that you don’t know in advance.


7. Create a digital thread to connect business and human processes.

Results happen when you connect insights from IoT and AI to the actual people and activities that can gain from it. Do this by creating a digital thread, in which the value chain consists of a single experience with the customer at the center and all the elements connected together digitally. This digital thread contains data that flows through every part of your organization to inform a seamless, responsive process—from sensing customer needs to delivery of services to receipt of payment.


8. Move fast on product development.

Don’t spend too much time applying the intelligence gained from your IoT strategy or you may fall behind competitors. The process should take weeks or months, at most, to complete. Manufacturers need to introduce and update technologies as quickly as possible or their products can quickly become outdated or obsolete is today’s fast-paced business environment.


9. Learn from outcomes.

Lastly, make sure you’re learning from your outcomes to create more value from your products and services. Markets and customer demands change daily, and new data is constantly streaming from the connected world. Use these realities as opportunities to tweak and improve your business, and be prepared to continuously reinvent your offerings around the data you’re capturing and analyzing.


One of the keys to success in the 4th Industrial Revolution is the ability to democratize IoT and AI. This means adopting cloud platforms that are as easy for your teams to operate as modern consumer applications. It’s about simplifying access to the technology so that business decision-makers will act quickly and scale accordingly.  Start developing new business models that will put your organization in position to leverage the power of the “new electricity” today.


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