If you want to compete in today’s fast-paced world, your IoT data can’t be stuck in technological or organizational silos. Instead, it needs to flow seamlessly across your enterprise to support fast and highly informed business decisions.
That’s why a connected digital enterprise (CDE) is so important. It connects multiple functions within your enterprise to deliver real-time, real-state information about your products, processes and performance.
Transforming your enterprise into a CDE is a multi-factored business strategy. It requires creating not only linear IoT connections, but horizontal, vertical and diagonal ones. And it involves not just accessing data, but combining and analyzing data to understand and solve problems in new ways.
What defines a CDE?
The main goal of your connected digital enterprise is to create a single version of the truth for any business challenge, whether it’s improving your product design, making production more efficient, fixing quality issues or meeting customer demands.
But what does your CDE need in place to be able to do this?
It needs connected platforms, systems and applications that can talk to each other. It also needs sensors and other IoT technologies that can monitor your demand, processes, asset health, deliveries, product performance and more in real time.
Your CDE also must be able to put data into a standard shape and form, and then connect it with your other data from your value chain. This allows you to create contextualized, actionable insights to business challenges.
The connected digital enterprise in action
Some companies are in the early stages of defining what their business could look like as a CDE.
For example, a major global automotive manufacturer started its transformation into a CDE by collecting diagnostic data from its cars to monitor their performance and proactively address defects. The company collects data either periodically from its connected cars or from non-connected cars when they’re brought in for servicing at one of the company’s thousands of dealerships.
The collected data provides insights into defects and their frequency, allowing the company to identify and resolve recurring issues. But the true power of the CDE comes when the diagnostic data is combined with engineering or production data. This has allowed the company to trace specific issues back to a single production plant — and even to a single component from a single supplier.
Now, the company can use vehicle diagnostic data to refine vehicle designs. It can also proactively address defect issues using data from just a handful of cars. And it can trace issues back to suppliers and hold them accountable.
The company recently started using an IoT-based system to monitor its air conditioning units used in more than 1,000 large buildings, from malls to sports arenas. The company collects data and remotely monitors the units in a central location, where workers can see real-time equipment health, identify performance anomalies and predict failures.
The IoT system is helping the company to more proactively service air conditioning units before they fail. It’s also helping to reduce maintenance time and costs by making sure service engineers know what issues need to be addressed before they arrive at a customer’s site. The result of these improvements? Higher unit availability and happier customers.
The company is even using its new remote monitoring capability to create new business models by expanding its service offerings.
Three tips for starting your journey
If you’re evolving your technology systems to compete in a Business 4.0 world, embracing the CDE is a must.
There is no blueprint that spells out how your transformation should happen. But there are some general rules that every company can follow:
- Chart your course: You won’t transform into a CDE overnight. Plan a phased approach to implementation. Move in a realistic timeframe and aim to achieve successes along the way.
- Ready your people: Get buy-in from upper-level management and the organizational teams that will be involved. Make sure you have agreement on goals up front — and assign ownership to keep people accountable for forward momentum.
- Complete the circle: Data is most valuable in a CDE when it can be combined and used across the value chain. That’s why it’s important that you close the decision-making loop, with the ability to feed product performance data all the way back to engineering.
Following these principles will help improve the odds that your journey is a successful one. And it will help you realize dramatic digital transformations that only become possible in a connected digital enterprise.
An example of one of those transformations is a digital twin. There’s been a lot of hype around this concept, which is the digital re-creation of a product, process or plant. I will expand on the value of the digital twin and discuss use cases for it in my next article — so check back here in a few months!
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