The very definition of many industries is changing in no small part due to the of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its’ ability to disrupt and generate new business opportunities. Industry leaders across the board are starting to embrace IoT projects, use IoT devices, and build smart connected products using IoT platforms.

This article references real IoT case study stories and internet of things examples from John Deere and Nike to provide you with a better understanding of how the IoT is starting to shake up and disrupt industries.

 To paint you a picture of exactly how the IoT is creating business opportunities for organizations today, let’s start with a company you might already be familiar with – John Deere.

Before the rise of IoT

John Deere has been making tractors and agriculture equipment for over 175 years.

For many years, though, they made simple tractors that weren’t ‘smart’ or connected products, they were just mechanical.

Soon enough, over time, John Deere’s products started to become smart and connected– changing everything for the organization.

Creating smart products & connecting devices

John Deere began to equip their products with digital dashboards, engine control units, sensors to alert users if they are running out gas, if oil pressure is too high, if hydraulic pressure is too low, etc.

By doing so, John Deere began to realize the countless benefits that came along with connecting their agricultural equipment to the internet of things, which eventually would provide the ability to remotely monitor the equipment’s performance.

Now remember, at this point, John Deer was still a tractor company, but as the organization moved forward with their vision of smart connected products, they also created what is called a smart connected product system.

The evolution of a smart connected product system & Digital Transformation

At the heart of John Deer’s product system is what is called a combine harvester. Their combine harvester harvests grain from fields, separates the head or the ear from the stalk, and divides the hulls, cobs, and the husks from the kernels of grain.

Today these smart connected combines have the ability to smartly monitor how many kernels came from a single patch of land, and how many kernels came from another.

In fact, they even collect, store, and send data to the cloud for the following season – so the machine is able to perform what is called a smart planting scheme.

During the smart planting scheme, the tractor hooks up to a tiler, which is basically a plow. As the plow works the soil, the equipment frequently fertilizes it, particularly with nitrogen. The equipment then follows its smart planting scheme – if the yield was low, nitrogen application should be high in a particular spot. If the yield was high, nitrogen should decrease.

Next from the connected product system comes the tractor pulling the planter that puts kernels in the ground for next year’s crop. It’s doing the same thing.

With a wide variety of seeds, the planter makes smart decisions for specific spots as needed. The smart connected equipment even knows when to use different drought resistant seeds in particular dry patches of land.

Smart products and the internet of things

John Deere created their own unique smart connected product system with the equipment they manufacture.  By using smart connected devices, sensors, and building on top of an IoT platform, they slowly started to connect their entire product line.

This breakthrough in farming equipment enabled their products to work together and share data back and forth.

Farmers are now able to correlate their inputs and outputs, while reducing inputs and maximizing outputs. This means productivity and profits.

Taking it a step further, John Deere designed a smart farm system where, depending upon commodity prices, the equipment has the ability to plants different seeds.

Farms that irrigate now have the ability to place sensors in the soil to that read moisture levels. Using this knowledge, the smart equipment is able to determine whether it should apply more or less water to particular locations.

Agricultural equipment can now even assess upcoming weather forecasts and determine if irrigation is critical.

New business opportunities with IoT

John Deere went from selling tractors to selling sophisticated information systems that can run smart farms.

With the technological advancements around today, a company like John Deere now has to determine the actual business they are in.

IoT presents new industry opportunity

Somewhere along the way, while developing smart connected products, John Deere became a software company and a systems integrator.

The internet of things presented John Deere with an opportunity to compete within an entirely new industry. 

In fact, some say with this the new industry opportunity, John Deere even has the ability to compete with other well-known IT system integrators – such as Accenture.

The internet of things and smart connected products present a very interesting phenomenon, that’s happening right now.

Homes are beginning to transition to smart homes. Automobiles are starting to become smart. It’s happening everywhere you turn, even if in some cases it might be very subtly, or slow.

Products are evolving

Nike is another great example of how the IoT has started to accelerate and transform organizations.

Historically, Nike has made shoes, clothes and sunglasses – but today, their product line is now much more than that.

For Nike, it’s no longer just about clothes and shoes anymore. Their products have evolved from fitness equipment to fitness monitoring systems – driving personal health and wellness goals.

They too, started connecting their products by adding sensors into their shoes, clothes, and Fuel Bands.  This has enabled their smart connected products to help people maintain physical fitness and health.

Businesses possibilities of IoT

With the real-world examples from John Deere and Nike, it’s easy see how businesses are starting to expand their industry boundaries with the internet of things.

The world is changing, smart connected products are continually evolving. What is your organization doing to stay ahead?

Explore the business possibilities of IoT for your organization

Organizations today are adopting valuable IoT solutions to lower operating costs, increase productivity, and develop new products.

The Internet of Things can offer your organization an opportunity to be more efficient whether its connecting devices with automated systems that gather information, analyzing IoT data, creating an action to learn from a process, achieving the pinnacle – remote control, support and maintenance.

We want to help you achieve your IoT objectives

Not sure what the advantages of IoT are for your organization? We would love to help you define and push your boundaries!

Our technology specialists are experts at devising what IoT solutions, devices, projects, and business models are best suited for your organization. Let’s have a conversation.

The internet of things and the capability to connect to the internet suddenly brings all kinds of new implications for products and their value. The internet of things is fundamentally changing how products function and how customers derive value from them.

How the internet of things is changing products and impacting what customers perceive as product value

Products today are becoming a combination of physical components, smart components, and connectivity components. Each of the 5 layers of the IoT stack plays a role — core product infrastructure, sensor systems, connectivity, analytics, and smart applications on an IoT platform.

While all three elements — Strategy, Connected Things, and true IoT platforms — seem somewhat elemental, balancing these will be central to the success of any IoT enabled business initiative.

For instance, look at a simple product, such as the light bulb. What is the product? In this case it’s the light bulb itself. What is the value of the product? I’m not talking about the monetary value, but rather the reason, need, or problem that drives the product purchase in the first place.

You might say in this specific case, the value of the product is the light that it provides, the illumination it creates, or perhaps the extension of functional hours it delivers.

What if we were to add connectivity to the product? By using an app on a device that controls the bulb via Bluetooth connection, you could now change the color of the light remotely. You could control the function of the light bulb with the sound of your voice. You could use the products new functionality to simulate the sunrise and replace your alarm. You could even sync the bulb to reflect your fluctuating stock prices! There’s a host of applications now available – just for a single light bulb.

Revisiting the original question, evaluating your new connected light, what is the product? Is it still just the bulb? What about the app that controls it, or the device that supports the application? It’s really an interesting question to consider. It’s really an interesting question to consider. For this same connected product, let’s talk about its value.

Again, I’m not talking the connected product’s monetary value, but rather the reason the product would be purchased in the first place. Would it still be just for the light or illumination, or is it the array of colors, new features and functionality? The fact of the matter is – the value of the product has changed. The connected product now adds value in the form of light, remote control, entertainment, and even overall experience.

How and Where to Start Developing IoT Strategies

Products and their value are changing

As a consumer shopping for an original bulb, you were most likely looking for a certain wattage or color (such as yellow or white) – not an experience. The connected product now adds value in the form of light, remote control, entertainment, and even overall experience.

Now that products are changing and you have systems of products: an app, a bulb, connectivity; the product value changes as well. You now have the ability to look for a light that can be synced to music or sound. A light that simulates the sunrise. A light that you can control from your device. You now need to weigh product value against a slew of new price points, features, and the support the manufacturer will provide over the years.

There’s no question that the value of products is changing because products themselves are changing. We’d like to help you map out this new world. If you’d like to do anything from brainstorm potential impacts to your business, develop a full strategy for IoT at your organization, create proof-of-concepts, or implement underlying technology… you’ve come to the right place.

We’re your partner in the ever-changing world of the internet of things.

Smart devices and connected products, like the Apple Watch, raise an interesting question, what are the implications of transforming traditional products into smart connected products?

Now that we have sensors, connectivity, big data, and analytics, customers and businesses are leveraging this value to create new opportunities – here’s how.

Remote Operations

Connected products can share their data with their users, and likewise with the manufacturer, unlocking new service opportunities.

For example, I have the Nest thermostat in my house. I can adjust the temperature on my way home from work just but using a simple app control.

For a Minnesotan like me, this is pretty awesome when you experience winters like we have.

Remote Services

From a company perspective, remote access services are very valuable as well.

For example, just like a smart thermostat, manufacturers can automatically send updates to assets. Or if maintenance is required, technicians can often save time and money by remotely connecting to devices to ensure software and hardware are performing effectively. This can avoid unnecessary service calls.

Innovative Product Designs

Another great use case is how companies can change their product design strategies.

For example, IoT enables a new design strategy known as evergreen design. The premise is that when products are operating in the field, new software features can be built and delivered to a device to extend functionality and the usable life of a product. The Tesla car illustrates this concept well. Tesla actually used an evergreen design strategy to avoid a major recall.

A few years back, there were several instances in which the battery cell of the car actually rubbed against street curbs as the car turned corners, causing fires. Instead of sending all the Tesla cars back to the dealer, or a mechanic shop, the company sent a software update that automatically raised the clearance of the car chassis where the battery was located.

Tesla’s evergreen design saved the company money, as well as customer time, and money associated with a traditional recall.

Big Data Analytics

Another big game-changer in business is the value to be had from big data. Now that products can share information throughout their product development cycle and useful life, there is, in essence, a stream of data that we can collect, analyze, and use to inform all sorts of business decisions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know when the average daily usage of your products or product segments is in decline or incline? It could drive new product innovation timelines, customer success strategies, and new revenue from cross-sell and up-sell.

Data Collection & Analysis of Consumer behavior

The practice of using big data is not new. For example, in the retail market, companies are using purchasing behavior data to inform their business decisions.

What they found was surprising. A few days prior to the forecasted hurricane, people bought a significant amount of pop-tarts. In particular, strawberry pop-tarts. On the day of the hurricane, they bought more beer. Based on this data, Walmart adjusted their stock supply in anticipation of the new demand. This use case is unique in that data was originating from people’s shopping behaviors. What is different now is that we can collect and analyze data from products as well.

Remote Monitoring

Take the case of smart sports equipment. A friend I play golf with had a sensor attachment that told her about her swing, ball placement, and field location. So, as we were playing throughout the day, she was pulling out her golf app, observing her golf swing, and adjusting performance based on that data. This is great for the user, and there are also added benefits for the manufacturing company!

For example, the tennis racket company Babolat has sensors attached to their play pure drive product, which collects data about a player’s swing, the speed of their ball, and impact location.

Product to service transformation

Babolat also provides a training service, where based on the player’s performance, Babolat will provide consulting, hitting tips, and other development programs. In this use case, big data is transforming a traditionally hardware-oriented company into a service company as well.

This brings me to my last example, which illustrates a radical change in how businesses perceive product value.

Product-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Namely, products are now carriers for potentially limitless services based on how you creatively leverage their smart and connected elements. This concept is not new.

Products-as-a-Service have been pioneered in the aerospace industry.

For example, Rolls Royce licenses out their engines to airline customers, and they charge airlines for the millage of the planes as well as services associated with repair, and maintenance.

This is generally known as power by the hour. This product as a service concept is gaining a lot of attention in the IoT market.

For example, there is a big software battle for ownership of the car segment. Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the original car makers are attempting to get a slice of the services associated with cars, such as navigation, entertainment, and safety systems. This new service focus is really interesting for product development and associated business operations.

Bottomline – products are carriers of tremendous value. Now that we have sensors, connectivity, big data, and analytics, customers and businesses can leverage this value, and create new opportunities.

IoT Intro Class

At EAC, we want to make sure you don’t miss out on any revolution with respect to potential capabilities that you can add to your products- while we also realize the importance of basing your IoT initiatives around your mission statement. That’s why we created what we call our IoT Development Workshop.

We have made it our mission to help guide organizations like yours to explore and embrace the uncertainty of the emerging IoT market.

The future of digital transformation is happening now, and it is driving the future of all industries. This article highlights just about everything you need to know about the impacts and trends involving digital transformation.

No matter where your company resides on its digital journey – or even if you have yet to start with digital transformation, this article is just for you.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation refers to the concept of applying innovative uses of digital technology to solve traditional business problems.

For example, in a narrower sense digital transformation might refer to a simple concept such as ‘going paperless’. Yet, on a larger scale, it might refer to ‘achieving digital business maturity’.

Digital solutions not only enable organizations to achieve new levels of efficiency through automation, but they also open doors for creativity and innovation (rather than simply enhancing and supporting traditional methods).

Although applying the use of digital technology to solve traditional problems can offer numerous business advantages, many organizations have yet to begin the journey with digital transformation.

Digital Innovation: Where to Start?

With numerous applications, methods, and strategies, it can be difficult to know where to even start with digital transformation!

If this is the case with your organization, – don’t worry, you’re not alone.

According to a research study performed by Accenture and the World Economic Forum, 80% of executives stated they were completely convinced ‘digital’ advancements would fundamentally change and transform their industry within the next 5 years!

That’s right. Eighty percent! … And they’re not wrong at all!

In fact, digital technology has not only already begun to transform industries, but it has also started to transform the way the world experiences products. Despite the ability to recognize the effects that digital processes will bring, only 17% of the studied executives stated they had a strategy in place to address the challenge of digital transformation.

This left a shocking 87% to admit they had no current digital strategy in place whatsoever! This is exactly why, if you have not yet started your digital transformation journey, it’s important to realize A) It’s not too late and B) You are not alone. There is no better time to start than now!

Organizations are realizing the significant impacts that the digital transformation era brings and how it’s going to drastically change just about everything when it comes to the way we do business.

The Impact of Digital Transformation

The process of digital transformation is creating entirely new ways of doing business. It has begun to create new experiences for customers while adding entirely redefined value propositions for mature product segments.

This era of digital transformation has started to impact and define what products are and what they mean to businesses and consumers.

Product perceptions are changing

Digital trends have also started to influence purchase decisions and sales processes. As the digital world has advanced, the average consumer is making purchase decisions with a Product as a Service (PaaS) mindset.

This means the rise of digital transformation has driven consumers to be sold by the outcome of the product – the recurring value. Manufacturers can address this shift in the market demand archetype by embracing three technology categories – Internet of Things (IoT), analytics, and mobile.

The future and advancement of technology is happening now

Established power plays and industry lines are beginning to blur. You cannot wait until some time in the near future to start your digital journey.

If your organization is going to succeed going forward, you won’t want to be left behind in this new industrial revolution, or you will fail.

Whether or not you’ve noticed if your industry has been affected yet, the key message is the effect of these disruptive technologies doesn’t discriminate one sector or industry. Every industry will see a major impact due to these digital technology advancements… And it is happening right now.

‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option. Organizations must adapt in order to survive.

The future of Digital Transformation: Smart, Connected Products

Digital transformation is reinventing products. Products from cars, to jet engines, to pumps, to heavy equipment, to medication, and more!

Machines, assets, and devices are starting to communicate, learn, and react to newly accessible context as they exchange and leverage data from sensors.

We are talking about the area of ‘living products’ – meaning transformative products that are responsive, collaborative, reactive, and responsible. Whether products are B2B or B2C, there will be a totally different process in the way we think about how our customers are using our products in the near future.

The future is now. Don’t let the opportunity slip away.

The first step in your digital transformation journey should be a strategic one. Understand where you are, where you want to be according to your current framework or understanding, and where you’d like to be as you embrace future technology and evolve with changing markets and new opportunities.

EAC Product Development Solutions would like to help you begin your transformation. We provide the people, technology, and services to make any transformation successful. The first step should be a Product Development System Assessment (PDSA). This will help you understand the opportunity that lies in front of you. Request more information on the PDSA today and start taking your digital transformation seriously.

Product Development System Assessment | EAC Product Development Solutions

Our Product Development System Assessment will help you start your digital transformation journey

Already know that you want to start dabbling in the Internet of Things (IoT) but have no idea where to begin? According to ARM, The Internet of Things Business Index, “A lack of IoT skills and knowledge among employees and management is viewed as the biggest obstacle to using the IoT more extensively.” EAC Product Development Solutions is offering the perfect way for you and your team to get started – with a hands-on IoT workshop.

This workshop, called the IoT Strategy Development Workshop, is pretty much what it sounds like…and it’s not just another class that delivers ideas of how the future is supposed to look. You actually get your hands dirty and work with your team to develop alignment between business initiatives, strategic frameworks, and vision statements. The workshop is 2 days and involves 4 different sessions including IoT Experience and Excitement, IoT Basics, Strategy Development, and a “Shark Tank” IoT pitch to peers.

Below you will find a transcript of a Q & A with Brian Ignaczak, Director of Research and Development at NORMA Group. Read about his team’s experience with EAC’s IoT Strategy Development Workshop. Contact us if you think this hands-on workshop would benefit you and your team.

NORMA Group develops AN IoT Strategy

Q: How did EAC’s IoT Strategy Development Workshop help you better understand IoT and how a smart connected product strategy could impact your business?

A: “The EAC IoT strategy development session showed us how we could add value through the use of data… it focused on the value-added business opportunity and helped us get over looking at just the gadget side of IoT.”

“I think the biggest takeaway we had from the EAC development session is that we were able to develop an IoT mission statement that aligned with our business initiatives. It brought together a number of stakeholders to put together an IoT plan that fit our organization. That has probably been the most durable product from our strategy session.”

Q: When did you realize the IoT could create more value for you and your customers?

A: “The EAC strategy development session helped us realize that IoT could be a big area of development for us. We want to be a technology leader. It fits with what we do. We want to stay on the cutting edge of technology and make sure that we don’t miss out on any revolution with respect to potential capabilities that we can add to our products. The session with EAC showed us many ways this could be possible.”

Q: In what ways did EAC’s strategy team help guide you to find your value drivers?

A: “EAC’s strategy team helped guide us to find our IoT value drivers through templates they had us work through. As we worked through the templates, we were able to see an underlining IoT strategy that suited our organization. These strategy templates forced us to fill in what we were really trying to accomplish with IoT.”

Q: How did your team define and prioritize potential smart connected product ideas?

A: “EAC helped us determine where exactly we were headed with IoT. We were able to thoroughly evaluate if we were trying to open up new markets or try and better serve our existing markets.”

“Looking at smart connected product ideas that our organization could pursue, we decided to focus on opportunities within our existing markets.”

“EAC helped us identify two main areas that smart connected products could fit our business model. The first had to do with addressing customer pain points through the creation of digital products. The second had to do with upcoming changes to the market that were coming via regulations. Their team really showed us smart connected products that could work as solutions for our organization.”

Q: What has been the biggest benefit of having a customized IoT plan to fit your company’s strategy?

A: “From EAC’s strategy development session we were able to determine an IoT framework that we now can discuss. It made our endpoint more concrete. We realized things we weren’t going to do versus things that were possible for us to do. They helped us identify how the revenue streams would flow based off of that.”

“EAC helped our company by setting a realistic IoT vision we are able to work towards.”

Q: What impact did EAC’s IoT processes have on your own strategy building sessions going forward?

A: “EAC helped us realize the importance of basing our IoT initiatives on our mission statement. The impacts of these processes remind us to continuously review that we are headed in the right direction.”

“The strategy sessions EAC held gave our company an anchoring point with IoT. Now, as new opportunities come up, we use the methodologies we were shown to develop products that will meet our vision.”

Q: Describe how EAC’s hands on connected product experiences provided a relatable IoT experience for you.

A: “EAC’s hands-on connected product experiences opened our eyes to the vast amount of data that can be produced. It made us realize how quickly data can be processed in real time. It showed us the vast quantity, the amount of processing power that is available, and how it could all be used to produce something of value.”

“Seeing live data stream on the computer screen and realizing how quickly that is communicated was pretty eye-opening.”

Q: How did the IoT Concepts presentation help frame a basic understanding of your current state and future opportunity that IoT provides?

A: “The IoT concepts presentation helped frame a basic understanding of our current state and future opportunity. It goes beyond technology and starts explaining how others have started to transform their business. The case studies really helped us to understand how some of our peers in the industry have begun to adapt to the changing technology and transform their business.”

Q: During the strategy development session, how did EAC help you realize the alignment between your business strategy framework and business statement?

A: “During the strategy development session, EAC had us break up into groups. We all developed plans and pitches based on an IoT implementation. From there, each group presented their idea to the wider audience. It was really interesting to see how different teams approached the opportunity. After the presentations, we had an open discussion as to what the pros and cons were of the different scenarios that were presented. We are currently moving forward with the winning concepts of those strategic plans.”

Q: Do you feel that EAC had the proper techniques, strategies, and knowledge behind IoT to help implement these new strategic initiatives?

A: “EAC absolutely had the proper techniques, strategies, and knowledge behind IoT to help implement our new strategic initiatives. They have been a very valuable partner for us throughout the process. They are the reason why we have been able to start moving forward with our development. We have made a lot of progress since then.”

Q: What might you say to other companies considering a strategy development session with the EAC specialists to develop or implement an IoT plan?

A: “I feel that EAC’s processes are a great way to jump-start IoT strategy development. Having an outside voice is a very important aspect of that. They come in with a different point of view and it really helped bring together the different viewpoints from our stakeholders and teams.”

“EAC’s processes definitely helped us push forward. (EAC) has been a really good partner in furthering what we’re trying to accomplish. For us, getting beyond just the technology side and really trying to build IoT into a business plan is one of the things that they have emphasized. They helped explore the best possibilities for us.”

“We have been more than happy with the engagement of EAC. We feel that they have a tactical view of how projects move forward. With IoT, there is a lot of uncertainty and there are many companies that don’t deal well with that. EAC helped guide us to explore and embrace the uncertainty of the emerging market.”

Is EAC’s IoT Strategy Development Workshop right for me?

Unpack the digital revolution within your company by developing an IoT strategy within your organization. NORMA Group found value in taking this 2-day hands-on workshop. Contact us to start your own IoT journey.