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How to prep your company for connected space

Posted: 24 Dec 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Internet of Things? enterprise? ERP? IoT?

IDC has forecasted that the global Internet of Things (IoT) market will reach $1.7 trillion by 2020. As such, enterprises from all sectors are on the road to cash in on connecting their products, services and devices of all kinds to the Internet.

But selling an IoT device isn't like selling any "traditional" product. With IoT technology comes a fundamental change in business models and the ways in which you engage with customers. Your relationship with them will likely be continuous, with new payment models and new expectations for service. But can your enterprise software systems support this new style of relationship? It's not what they were designed for.

So let's do a quick check of the enterprise software capabilities you need in order to start profiting from the IoT.

Manage and fulfill a multi-modal product

Your IoT product likely comprises not just hardware, but also software, data and services...think Apple Watch: Apple tracks usage of the watch, but the app providers own the data around the interactions in the app, or some combination of these. This means it crosses over several categories that your traditional enterprise systems probably kept separate, which raises the question: can your ERP system handle the challenges of managing and fulfilling a multi-modal product?

It's not currently possible to handle multi-modal products using traditional ERP solutions. Right now, it takes your staff extra time and effort and it creates errors that can undermine customer satisfaction. But, some next-generation ERP systems enable you to leverage a unified data model that creates custom data-rich objects so you can wrap all the details of products and related services into a single "Thing" for ease of management.

Bundle up

Bundles are a key characteristic of IoT offerings, and chances are your customers will want you to offer a wide variety of them. The options may look good on your website pages, ads or brochures, but behind the scenes, it's probably not going to be pretty.

Most businesses end up using spreadsheets with a tangle of tables and joins to describe each product or package of services because their existing business applications and ERP systems cannot support multiple fulfillment, invoicing, and revenue streams for the same product. You too might be able to support your offerings for a while this way, but it's going to cost you. Efficiency and customer satisfaction are likely to suffer, and you might not even get paid fully for your offering because of flaws in the system. It doesn't have to be this way. Next-gen ERP offers all the flexibility you need to mix and match your offerings as many ways as you like and manage them as coherent entities, without complex and fragile connections.

Differentiate & innovate

One value of introducing an IoT offering is to quickly differentiate your product from other companies'. So many businesses will be stuck trying to sort out how to incorporate multi-modal offerings into their enterprise systems that it will be challenging for them to get their products to market quickly. But for your business to succeed, it is essential to deploy enterprise systems that can match that flexibility, or you might not be able to deliver, track and invoice accurately. With the right tools in place, you should be able to carry out extensive customization of your offerings and introduce new ones as your business innovates without ever touching a line of source code in an ERP. You should be able to add new fields, logic or workflows, and keep your customisations during updates so you can take advantage of new technologies and capabilities.

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