Internet of Things: Connecting the Digital to the Physical World

The Internet of Things is now a very effective way to bring the digital world to the physical world, a way of closing the gap between information systems and the field. In the past, there was always a divide between the two since field data were not integrated into the information system. Most often, field data were incorporated later, in “batch” mode or by manual entry, which made it impossible to use them in real time and limited the ability to respond to market demands or uncertainties in operations.

With the Internet of Things, data are integrated in real time—connected objects are immediately linked, in a ready-to-use state, to the company’s information system—which offers a host of new opportunities for companies, especially in terms of creating new services.

At the same time, since the product used to be delivered straight to the customer, the company was unable to exercise control, particularly regarding its use. With the Internet of Things, not only is the company able to maintain control, but most of all, it has the possibility of offering a service around the product. Sneaker retailers become sports advisors, and transport companies become mobility operators.

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Under five billion connected objects were registered in 2010, while more than 80 billion are expected in 2020, less than four years from now! This new situation brought about by the Internet of Things affects all sectors of activity, but particularly product manufacturers. However, other sectors such as health, retail and industry (excluding production) should also benefit from this new dynamic. In this regard, agriculture is a symbolic sector, where the many innovations emerging at the moment will help provide businesses with intelligence and advice.

Connecting the Internet of Things to a company’s information system is not just a connectivity issue. Most of all, it’s about establishing an all-encompassing environment for exploiting data from connected objects with the goal of achieving a competitive advantage. This integration of data from the Internet of Things actually presents a threefold challenge.

First, these new data sources need to be incorporated with the existing company data. We now see that the main weakness in this area is a lack of integration between the various applications of the Internet of Things. While the smartwatch and intelligent home markets are showing more modest growth than anticipated, it’s because they do not generate enough value for the consumer. This is explained by the lack of overlap between data generated by equipment and those already present in the company’s information system (CRM data for example).

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There seems to be a plethora of opportunities. For example, Air France has stated that it managed to make significant gains in efficiency by choosing to use data from “only” 24,000 of the 300,000 sensors installed on most modern aircraft such as the Airbus A380. The airline has already seen significant benefits, both in terms of remedial and preventive maintenance.;

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