By: Dan Griffith, Sales Director – US and Canada
Business process automation can be a critical part of leveraging the IoT (Internet of Things) data you capture.
The Connected Age with IoT Data
As we run full tilt into the connected age, what seemed like the impossible only a few years ago is now quickly becoming a reality: we can connect “everything.” The Internet of Things (IoT) has enabled us to connect so many different devices – your refrigerator, home security system, medical bracelet, Fitbit device, your car, entire buildings and so much more. We can now take any physical device and embed sensors, software and network connectivity and stream data to and from that device.
There will be over 20.8 billion connected things by 2020, according to research firm Gartner. In 2016 alone, 5.5 million things are connected every day.
“‘IoT services are the real driver of value in IoT, and increasing attention is being focused on new services by end-user organizations and vendors,’ said Jim Tully, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.”
When most of us think about IoT, we think of simple sensors that send data to inform something or someone about the state of a device. This view of IoT alone is streaming massive amounts of data into Big Data repositories across the globe.
But streaming that data into the repositories is only the beginning. That data must be managed on an ongoing basis and for it to be worth anything, you have to do something with it.
Automating Process Using Smart Devices
If you really take a minute to think about this, it’s pretty simple. Intelligent business process management isn’t just about automating routine repeatable processes; it’s about connecting people, applications and activities (automated and non-automated) to perform a process.
If business process automation can help modernize your legacy applications, then it can also connect your smart devices. In other words, the data your smart device streams have to go somewhere. That somewhere is a business process application that consumes the data and actions it. Surrounding your IoT data with a process automation framework allows you to quickly leverage IoT data to manage, automate and track activities; and ultimately improve business.
For example, a cooler at a national grocery chain “re-calibrated” itself after a thunderstorm and the company lost everything in it. If they had surrounded the data by a process that notified the appropriate people and took action the contents of that cooler would have been saved.
Business process automation enables you to not only take data from devices and action it, it also enables you to push data back to that device (if the device supports this capability) telling that device to do something.
Take the cooler example above. If the cooler included not only the ability to stream data to the company to indicate its current status, but also the ability to reset itself properly based on data sent back by the processing application, then the contents would not have been lost.
The process of remotely viewing, managing and maintaining connected devices is also a perfect fit for BAM (Business Analytics Monitoring) a hallmark of process automation.
Creating Better Services with IoT Data
Business process automation is an integral component of digital transformation. It enables organizations to create applications and services that improve customer experiences by combining the people, activities, applications and data needed to solve a customer’s problem.
Data from IoT devices fits perfectly into this centralized approach, by ensuring employees or automated services can see at a glance the data from devices that support a customer experience. These devices can trigger alerts, like with the cooler above, or like a medical alert bracelet connected to a hospital monitoring system.
They can kick off a process that corrects some problem. When a critical part of the cooler breaks, a new part can be automatically ordered and a service call scheduled. When the oil in your car is getting low, a notification is sent to the car owner and an appointment is booked with the owner’s preferred dealership based on the owner’s schedule.
These types of business process automation-enabled services ensure your IoT data is actionable and valuable and not just taking up space in your data lake. It enables you to add a layer of tracking and reporting on that data and demonstrate its value to the organization and its customers.
Maybe it’s time to not ask what to do with your IoT data, but to ask how can you use it to improve your customer’s experience.