Any organization wanting to be the next market game changer has to put innovation on the top of their agenda. Top leaders know that innovation is a way of thinking, not just a project, and therefore CIOs are tasked by the CEO to have a flexible and trusted infrastructure that supports innovation. According to Gartner’s Pace Layered Application Strategy: “(...)competing goals often lead to strategic misalignment”. A key concept to succeed is to have “Business and application organizations collaborating on innovations, ideation and experimentation”1.
One of the most disruptive game changers occurring right now is the Internet of Things (IoT). The latest insight from Chetan Sharma Consulting2 tells us, that in Q2 2016, the number of new IoT devices being added in the US by mobile operators has exceeded the number of phones and tablets combined. That is an amazing statistic, that opens up enormous potential for companies that are – innovative. This also presents a huge technical challenge for the operators of these devices, because how can they manage all of this data?
Master Data Management. Here are three ways MDM supports IoT:
1. Link your IoT data with accurate master data to obtain insights
When you connect IoT with MDM, you are able to link the data being captured with the device across any data domain, such as: customer, location, asset, product, employee, etc. This powerful data relationship enables businesses to obtain the correct insight across the business while leveraging existing solid architecture3. Any IoT initiative will benefit from this foundation of data, as well as generate even more useful and real-time information. As a ‘Systems of Innovation’1 that can be the differentiation in a competitive market, and empower the business to deliver better customer experiences.
As an example, Vodafone4 developed and launched the ‘Smart-summer’ connected swimwear using IoT technologies, which contain UV sensors that monitor sun exposure. This is linked to a smartphone app, which can notify you when you (or your child) is being exposed to too much UV light.
This concept is called ‘Connective clothing’ or ‘Wearable tech’; the consumer can communicate with something they’re wearing. Companies that are able to harness that wearable data can strengthen customer engagement and brand loyalty.
With the IoT and MDM, a brand manager will be able to use the generated data, link it to the specific swimsuit or child's sun hat, and then aggregate that data at the product line level. This data now becomes important information in a product lifecycle management (PLM) process and it will assist the designers in making the right enhancements for next season – all based on trusted accurate data.
The great thing about IoT generated data is that it contains a high level of trust, as it’s real-time data generated in the moment of action by actual people. The companies that successfully deploy mass market IoT offerings will be the ones that hit the bullseye, as they can understand what’s relevant and desirable from a customer perspective.
2. Empower your stakeholders with IoT data via your MDM platform
There are multiple ways to leverage the effects of IoT initiatives, as multiple stakeholders across the enterprise play various roles. By applying the ‘Multi-sided platform’5 strategy, it’s possible to identify the value-adding elements, which can inform the CIO where to make changes to the ‘Systems of Differentiation’ and ‘Systems of Innovation’, unfolding the great innovative ideas in an IoT context.
This data goldmine can be the silver bullet, as trusted IoT information managed in your MDM solution is then shared throughout your organization’s information supply chain. The ability these disparate systems hold in harnessing the IoT data will become a game changer for organizations who have the guts to take on an IoT initiave. If companies can embed this innovation into the DNA of their employees, they will be able to watch both their customers and relevant stakeholders benefit from the data-driven changes ahead.
3. Secure IoT Data Governance and connect your IoT initiatives to become proactive
The data aggregated from your IoT initiatives needs to be supported by appropriate data governance capabilities. Your MDM solution should assist you in having that, as well as capabilities to embed and reference IoT device generated data. With access to IoT data, you may start to aggregate and cross reference this data, and allow different stakeholders to view and act appropriately based on product make/model, product line, customer segment, and much more.
The MDM solution will become the binding element of IoT initiatives that organizations use to orchestrate data to other applications in the IT architecture landscape, delivering value-adding insights. Having such aggregated and linked views will allow organizations to become proactive, as they will have the opportunity to implement processes that perform real-time analytics on the comprehensive volume of data in motion.
Such overviews will be aggregated to higher level in the data structure. For example, if we look at a robotic lawn mower, IoT generated data can show details of the actual use of a specific lawn mower, aggregate that information for the usage for all models within that product segment, cross referenced to each person that owns the lawn mower, to that customer segment group or geographical locations/regions. This type of data can then be used to develop the product further or even help the end customer develop more efficient ways to mow their lawn.
The question now is, what obstacles or challenges are hindering organizations to move forward with IoT opportunities? My experience is that many organizations are not digital ready in their ways of thinking and operating. They are in waiting-mode, looking at others to learn how to cope with the concerns of elements such as data privacy and security, lack of skills, lack of standards, organizational change management, technology and architecture and more.
They are facing a great level of uncertainty, whether the IoT initiative will deliver the benefits promised. Maybe the endless road of new challenges and opportunities in areas such as data governance, standards, health and safety, security, design and supply chain are too overwhelming, and short term priorities have the focus. They may opt-out on innovative opportunities, which could be supported by IoT and MDM.
As innovative offerings can be game-changers in a competitive market place, IoT initiatives may be the enabler in order to deliver better customer services, support cross-sell and upsell opportunities, enhance business efficiency or reduce risks. MDM is a key foundational element to digest and structure this velocity of data becoming the reference model between innovators and data scientists inside your business, and create solutions that connect your people and systems in the integrated world. Companies must start planning now or risk being left behind; therefore, it’s important to establish a direction for how to master data in a greater context.