The success of your IoT initiative will depend on your data proficiency

Forrester highlights takeaways from Bosch Connected World and the importance of data proficiency in IoT initiatives.
Written by Forrester Research, Contributor and  Dan Bieler, Contributing Analyst

Video: Can machine learning bail enterprises out of their data management woes?

Data management and data rights sharing are critical aspects of the IoT ecosystem debate. For businesses, Industry 4.0 is a new way to think about data across processes. It is also about real-time process integration with digital technology, "intelligence anywhere," and distributed intelligence. In the B2B context, Industry 4.0 is about end-to-end transparency across the value chain. In the B2C context, Industry 4.0 is about a personalized, individualized offering -- a solution that is relevant to a specific consumer at a specific moment in time.

Read also: Robotics in business: Everything humans need to know

Bosch recently hosted its fifth Connected World conference in Berlin. Over the years, it has become one of the global go-to IoT events for businesses working on Industry 4.0 solutions. What sets Connected World apart from traditional technology trade fairs like Mobile World Congress or CEBIT is its "let's roll up our sleeves and get to work" atmosphere. This year's Connected World provided valuable insights such as:

  • IoT solutions are ultimately all about data and should be treated as such. IoT solutions are about tracking and monitoring assets and automating decision making. Logistics provider Panalpina demonstrated an asset shipment solution that calculates a new route for shipped assets if the original shipment schedule is delayed or interrupted. In the agriculture space, Bosch demonstrated an "Internet of Trees" irrigation solution for olive orchards. It uses sensors originally designed for Bosch gas tank, side airbag, and hydraulic systems to measure the pressure within olive tree leaves and tell the farmer when and how much to irrigate.
  • Leading IoT players must develop data platforms and data business models. The significance of data to Bosch's long-term business model is evident. The strategic questions are whether Bosch should charge for data-generated machine-specific insights, sell machine-related anonymized data sets, or benchmark information for process enhancements. Bosch is fully aware of the significance of data to its long-term business model; as an additional data-building block, it will launch Bosch IoT Data Manager, a platform for data transmission, digestion, storage, processing, visualization, and exploration.
  • Soft issues are critical to the success of IoT solutions. More than ever, the disruption that digital transformation brings means that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Bosch recognizes this and is ramping up its cultural transformation efforts by increasing cooperation with startups and accelerators. The firm is also encouraging different management styles, adjusting its incentive structures, and developing new partnerships with companies that are currently not Bosch customers -- such as the relationship Bosch is building with parking garage providers as part of its automated valet parking offering.
  • IoT solutions must address rapidly changing customer expectations. Each last best customer experience sets the minimum benchmark for the next customer expectation. Thus, IoT solutions also depend on great user interfaces. In this context, Bosch developed System!e, an app for electric vehicle owners, as part of its e-mobility initiative. System!e monitors the remaining driving range very accurately, based on sensor readings of driving style and car conditions. It also assists with trip planning, including finding and reserving a place at available charging stations, route planning, finding shops and cafés near a charging station, and billing.
  • Connectivity matters to all IoT solutions. Connected assets depend on connectivity. As many businesses are realizing, different IoT use cases require different types and qualities of connectivity. For instance, while 5G will play a big role in autonomous driving, direct vehicle-to-vehicle communication will also involve non-4G and 5G technologies. Similarly, automated valet parking will use edge connectivity and computing for sharing data between vehicles and parking garage systems.

If Industry 4.0 is a new way to think about data across processes, IoT is relevant to all businesses. Of course, challenges remain, such as interoperability between different cloud environments, network coverage, map accuracy, and IoT standardization. But none of these issues should hold you back from developing a coherent IoT strategy and asking difficult questions regarding your medium- to long-term business model.

Read also: Are consumer brands jumping the gun when it comes to hiring data scientists?

Bosch Connected World underlined the increasing momentum of traditional businesses ramping up their IoT activities. Businesses should get on the IoT bandwagon by testing the return they can get on an investment in IoT. As part of their IoT efforts, businesses must internalize the fact that the success of IoT initiatives will depend on data proficiency.

Interested in developing your own IoT strategy? Watch Forrester's complimentary webinar: Untangle your business strategies for IoT.

Previous and related coverage

Can a smart office make your team more productive too?

Smart office technologies could mean big changes for how and where we work.

Five ways voice assistants are going to change the office

Digital assistants will fill roles that complement the work of human employees, improving productivity and efficiency.

Editorial standards