Mapping the path to IoT opportunities

March 22, 2017
The trajectory of innovation underway in industry today may never be equaled.
SAP recently unveiled a jump-start enablement program for its Internet of Things innovation portfolio. Named SAP Leonardo, the program is intended to help
customers connect intelligent devices with people and processes to achieve tangible business outcomes. (Sound familiar?)

We chatted with Frank Platt, SAP senior director of digital manufacturing to learn more. Take a look…

Smart Industry: Part of your Leonardo program is helping organizations identify IoT opportunities. Is that still a challenge...making people understand how they can benefit from digital transformation?

Smart Industry: What are the greatest challenges in getting started with the IoT?

Frank: Building solid business case that lead to executive sponsorship. Many of the early proof-of-concept IoT initiatives have not produced the business value. Our approach is to help companies define the business-value proposition, and identify the fixed-scope pilot to prove the value to achieving our customers’ strategic goals. Many executives evaluate technology budgets without always grasping IoT-related benefits. To secure executive buy-in, proving the business case is a must. 

Smart Industry: So how do enterprises get past this challenge? Is starting small the best approach?

Frank: This is where we help our customers to think big, but start small. Because IoT can touch so many parts of the business, defining the value proposition and initial pilot and starting point can help companies approach IoT strategies in a manageable, more predictable way. We use design-thinking to help map IoT deployments to customers’ broader digital strategies, with a focus on achieving tangible business outcomes. It’s more than “low hanging fruit.” We advise choosing approaches that validate digital strategies, which can be scaled further. This becomes the evidence for leadership to invest in a digital foundation. Providing executives with a manageable entry point, such as this IoT jump-start program, offers transparency and eliminates budget uncertainty, while enabling customers to establish IoT pilots with clear scope, length and pricing.

Smart Industry: How do "people" fit into the emerging world of intelligent devices?

Frank: Connecting people with business processes and things is a core principle of our approach. Moving from things to outcomes is about new business processes such as Industry 4.0, new business models and new ways for people to live and work. SAP Leonardo connects things with business processes that are instantaneous and proactive, and with people who can manage more effectively with deeper insights. The Internet of Things will change the way we live and work. Organizations will increasingly need IT professionals, data scientists and analytics experts. If you look at university curriculum as a bell weather, program growth in these areas is exploding. Combine this with new business models and you should see growth levers as well, with higher-paying jobs.

Smart Industry: What most excites you about digital transformation as we get further into 2017? 

Frank: There has never been a more exciting time for manufacturing operations, where technology enablers are so abundant, where cloud delivery drives instant value-realization, and where executive visibility to the opportunity is almost universal. The trajectory of innovation underway in industry today may never be equaled.