If you don’t measure something, it’s easy for problems to go unnoticed until it’s too late. It’s also tough to pinpoint the reasons why — and to know when they’ve been fixed.
A digital transformation strategy that leverages the Internet of Things enables businesses to overcome those challenges. Digital transformation goes beyond mere digitization, which is the process of converting traditionally printed or handwritten information such as patient health records into a digital format for easier access and analysis.
Digitization can help with digital transformation, but the latter is about fundamentally changing business processes to save money and improve customer satisfaction. To understand some of the key considerations when developing an IoT-powered digital transformation strategy, let’s look at some recent projects by CDW clients.
Deep, Actionable Insights Minimize Downtime and Disaster
One client is an energy company with oil refineries and wells around the world, many of them in remote locations. Before digital transformation, equipment such as pumps could fail, and unless employees were around to notice right away, the consequences ranged from days of lost production to environmental disasters.
With IoT sensors feeding back into analytics and monitoring platforms, this company now can:
- Immediately know when equipment has failed
- Identify equipment where temperature, flow, vibration and other attributes are starting to trend out of spec and send a maintenance crew to fix it before it fails
- Determine how many spares to keep on hand
- Identify which models have high or low failure rates and maintenance costs so it can make more informed purchasing decisions
CDW can identify the right connectivity options for each environment, such as satellite for sensors on remote wellheads, cellular for equipment in populated areas and Zigbee for inside plants. CDW also can recommend network architecture that balances insights with savings. For example, instead of having sensors and other nodes send all of their data back to a central location every day for storage and analysis, edge aggregation and other techniques could forward only data that’s changed or that merits attention. That saves bandwidth, which is particularly expensive when satellite is the only connectivity option. All of this illustrates how multiple CDW teams — data center, IoT, digital transformation and others — work together to provide clients with customized, end-to-end solutions.
With this type of client, the customer satisfaction angle depends on how you define “customer.” Customers could be gas stations and home heating oil companies, both of which benefit when there’s no downtime disrupting supply. Or customers could be investors, who understand how IoT and digital transformation benefit the bottom line.
Waste Not, Want Not
Another CDW client is one of the world’s largest food service companies, supplying customers such as corporate cafeterias. That company is using radio frequency identification tags and sensors for yield analysis to minimize waste, which costs tens of millions annually.
For example, a cart with 100 pounds of onions is tracked from the moment the supplier unloads it, through processes such as peeling, where the waste cart is weighed, to the finished product, where the cart is weighed again. If the waste and product carts don’t total 100 pounds, the company knows something is wrong. The customer satisfaction benefits include a more consistent product and prices that are kept in check thanks to minimal waste.
Whether you’re in manufacturing, retail, healthcare or just about any other vertical, there’s no shortage opportunities to leverage IoT as part of your digital transformation strategy. And as these examples show, there’s also no shortage of success stories to learn from.
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