Four ways Manufacturers can drive the most business value

Blog: The Internet of Things: Four ways manufacturers can drive the most business value


Sanjay Ravi, Managing Director, Discrete Manufacturing, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft.

Across the globe every day, businesses are connecting their things and harnessing their data to create powerful new business value. Connecting devices to IT systems is only the first step. The real value lies in the data that is created by and transmitted from those devices as they interact with other devices and human beings, and the compelling business insights this data can enable. Together, this is what the Internet of Things (IoT) is all about.

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According to IDC, the potential market size of IoT will be $7.3 trillion by 2017. During that same timeframe, manufacturing companies that take advantage of their data have the potential to raise an additional $371 billion in revenue over companies that don’t. This infographic shows you more.

To achieve these gains, there are four key areas where IoT can unlock the most business value and new revenue growth opportunities for manufacturers.

  1. Connected marketing, sales and service. In a connected world, marketers, sales reps, and service reps need to collaborate over a single and comprehensive source of customer information to provide unprecedented service. By tapping into the IoT, you can not only achieve a 360-degree view of your customers, but dig deep into what your customers respond to and the experiences they are seeking. With advanced analytics, manufacturers can give customers what they want, before they even know they want it. Gathering richer data from customers also helps identify the most potentially lucrative new markets for your products.
  2. Connected devices. Devices have the potential to say a lot, but only if there’s someone, or something, on the other end to engage, react and listen. Smart connected products like a smart TV, wearable device or smart appliances can fundamentally change how manufacturers design, deliver, and service products—all focused on an ability to deliver context-specific rich consumer experiences and services. From sensors to handheld scanners to autonomous vehicles, the devices in your business can also create efficiency and insight, if you enable them to talk to each other, your employees and your customers.
  3. Connected operations. From the factory floor to the supply and demand chain, IoT can do tremendous things to advance your business. By connecting the manufacturing systems, devices and people that drive your operations, manufacturers can find numerous new ways to automate and create efficiencies. Automating production processes frees up workers to meet increased demand without sacrificing quality. A more nuanced and detailed view of your production data helps you shift your focus from repairing machines to fine-tuning their performance over the long term. Simplifying the way your machines work together makes it easier to bring new plants online in emerging markets. You also stand to gain new opportunities for revenue growth through services, enabling trading partners to monitor devices from remote locations to proactively offer new services such as condition-based maintenance that enhances equipment performance.
  4. Connected product innovation. IoT can also help deliver innovative products that customers want, faster. A connected product development solution will help you design, develop, and improve products using technology to collaborate and create content based on information, analytics, and insights from customer interactions, product performance, and social networks, with real-time availability to accelerate innovation. Take Surface for example. Our product managers know how people are using this. When people sign up for the experience program, Microsoft can see when a customer uses the keyboard versus the tablet. And for what. This insight helps manufacturers like Microsoft fine-tune information to design the next product.

In future posts, I will continue my discussion on IoT in a three-part series, taking a deeper look at its potential for the automotive, industrial, and high-tech & electronics industries.

In the meantime, if you want to learn even more about IoT, I encourage you to watch Microsoft’s on-demand webcast, “How the Internet of Things will transform manufacturing,” with ThyssenKrupp and Frost & Sullivan. For those that sign up, Frost & Sullivan is also generously giving away a copy of its Manufacturing Leadership Council whitepaper on IoT. You can also read and download our “top ten” list for why manufacturers need a strategy for IoT here.

I look forward to continuing the discussion and helping you take advantage of IoT to transform your business!