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Business & Technology Services
3 October 2019

By 2020, there could be more than 38 billion devices on the Internet of Things ( IoT). But if we really want to extract the maximum value, we need to start bringing life to things 

Today’s digital era connects everyone and everything from the customer to the producer and all points in between through the Internet of Things ( IoT ). These create an ecosystem of physical things and the digital information these physical things pass on. But it’s time to go further than collecting data, even if you’re using the most sophisticated techniques to analyze it. 

Whether within an organization or across a value chain, or even across an entire industry sector, the landscape is changing. Due in no small part to the Internet of Things, we are witnessing the emergence of interconnected ecosystems of suppliers, partners, end customers, and the enterprise itself. 

The internet of things is truly revolutionizing our world. During the recent Hurricane Dorian that hit the US East Coast, Tesla chief, Elon Musk, announced that Tesla cars would drive further on a single battery charge. By temporarily disabling a restriction imposed on car battery utilization from their offices in Palo Alto, Tesla not only responded to an urgent need but demonstrated with just a click, the far-reaching power of the IoT. 

According to Juniper Research, the number of connected devices making up the IoT will hit around 38.5 billion in 2020. That’s a lot of devices collecting a lot of data. Augmenting IoT with the possibilities offered by a machine-first outlook, based on automation and AI, is where the real promise lies though. 

This is a combination that could take the IoT and businesses that leverage it into a new era of connected ecosystems that can unlock exponential value. That’s the philosophy of TCS’ Bringing Life to Things™

It’s our framework for enabling business agility by augmenting the physical context using digital intelligence, harnessing connections, communication and collaboration, as explained by Regu Ayyaswamy, Global Head – IoT for TCS at TCS Summit Europe 2019. 

“We can build value chains where self-aware devices interact with each other. We will start to see these devices becoming increasingly intelligent, with decision-making taking place at the point where the information is gathered – by the device,” he said. 

“This enhanced digital intelligence will be a synthesis of human, artificial and cognitive intelligence. Devices start communicating and collaborating – effectively speaking to one another. We can even see that they are able to develop self-healing capabilities.” 

The right kind of insight 

It’s fascinating watching developments take shape and hearing about how things may unfold. But without rooting it in some realities, it can feel abstract. 

Let’s consider the following. For the most part, your customers probably don’t communicate with you very often about how they are using your products. That’s distinct from the way you think they are using them, or the way you market them to be used. But unless you are looking at warranty claims, communications with your call center, or comments on social media, you’re not getting much back from them. 

But today, connected devices and the IoT can close that feedback loop. 

“Businesses can then start to make investment decisions based on how the customer is using the product. That makes it possible to enhance the value the end customer feels – to revolutionize the customer experience,” Regu shared. Effectively, the IoT is eliminating traditional enterprise boundaries – making the world boundary-less. 

Of course, this also opens up opportunities to develop innovative business models backed by these digital ecosystems – by driving connectivity among customers, suppliers, and the enterprise. Just as customer journeys extend beyond traditional industry boundaries, these pervasive ecosystems also enable enterprises to extend the reach of their value chains. Eliminating these boundaries also delivers on the friction-less promise – fueling experience-rich outcomes. 

Sailing into a connected future 

Of the powerful examples, Regu shared, one was about the international shipyard group Damen. It has 36 shipbuilding and repair yards, 12,000 staff worldwide, and delivers around 175 vessels annually to customers worldwide. 

Damen is also on a mission to disrupt the maritime sector through connected, digital technology. The company has started putting around 700 sensors into each of its vessels. The data those sensors are collecting is then distributed across the whole of its value chain. 

There are sensors that connect the huge engines that power the ships direct to the engine manufacturer. Maintenance issues can now be detected and dealt with proactively before they become problems. Ultimately, and with the integration of digital intelligence, these systems will trigger predictive maintenance or corrective action if a problem is detected without intervention from a maintenance engineer. 

Regu highlighted the potential for all sectors to benefit from a similar outlook and strategy as Damen: “Across the entire value chain of a business, there are opportunities to create boundaryless, pervasive, experience-rich improvements that are built on data and delivered by intelligent machines. But taking full advantage of the potential value calls for the industry as a whole to embrace the process of reimagining business models.” 

The IoT, automation, and AI are three hot topics at the nexus of business and technology, attracting attention, investment, and some speculation.

Research undertaken by TCS indicates that around 84% of enterprise organizations are at the proof-of-concept stage with their IoT strategies. Bringing those strategies to life is going to call for high-level executive sponsorship and that will require a clear vision for unleashing the exponential value of connectivity in context. 

By augmenting the physical context with the synthesis of human, cognitive and digital intelligence, enterprises can create powerful ecosystems and build new innovative business models. And for TCS, this all comes together through our vision of Bringing Life to Things™. 

About the author(s)
Business & Technology Services

TCS’ Business and Technology Services organization combines the power of business excellence with digital innovations to help enterprises and leaders be purpose-driven and performance-oriented, making the shift from shareholder value to stakeholder value. By harnessing the abundance of data, talent, connectivity and capital, B&TS helps leading companies around the world build ecosystems that fuel growth and innovation, foster collaboration and engagement across ecosystems, improve health, safety, and well-being, enabling empowerment and inclusivity, and driving sustainability and positive environmental impact.