How IoT Innovation is Driving Digital Transformation

Mariah Patterson

The Porsche brand was launched in 1948 with the 356 Roadster. This sweet little ride was nimble, lightweight, and had a top speed of 135 km/h—just under 84 mph.

The business hasn’t looked back, and like most has seen its share of successes and failures over the years.

Porsche is well-versed in innovating to ensure its longevity. In fact, the business didn’t even produce vehicles when it was first founded in 1931—it offered consulting and development work for other entities.

But one of the vehicle giant’s more recent stories of innovation is the way it has undergone digital transformation with the use of telematics and machine learning—a shift toward collecting, storing, and applying its vehicles’ data to everything it does.

In fact, Porsche even has a subsidiary known as Porsche Digital through which it’s building on its brand with data-driven engineering and innovations.

Now with seven locations worldwide, Porsche Digital is digging even deeper into the digitalized world, exploring how to best leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and quantum computing.

In my view, digital transformation is not a project, but rather a fundamental process of change,” explains Lutz Meschke, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche.

“If you want to succeed in a digitalised world, you cannot view people as a mass of data. Instead, you need to develop products that treat people as unique individuals. It’s no longer the case that people need to adjust to technology; rather, technology needs to serve people—which of course means that we need to understand people better.”

Applying digital data to transformative action

Of course, to have this critical data that can be used to spark transformation, a business first needs to be able to collect that information. To this end, the Internet of Things (IoT)—and its connected web of sensors, devices, and data-exchanging technologies—is an essential vehicle (pun kind of intended) in the process.

For example, Porsche applies IoT data and machine learning methods to its design and development processes. This enables the carmaker’s engineers to then enhance vehicle performance, comfort, and safety based on how vehicles behave in the real world.

Collecting and actioning data to enhance products is just one way that businesses and industries are using IoT to drive their digital transformation strategies, though.

In a broad sense, the concept means marrying digitization with an entire business structure, including its technology, processes, and people.

Digital transformation goes beyond product advancement

For example, IoT innovations in the healthcare industry are transforming the ways people monitor and manage their wellness. Smart devices enable everything from activity, sleep, and fertility tracking, to continuous glucose and asthma monitoring, and even insulin delivery and cancer treatment.

And digitalization benefits the health-care-provider-patient connection as patients are empowered with the ability to view and maintain their medical history with digital files. The benefits of having critical information immediately—versus having to access a paper file—is critical, particularly in emergency situations.

Additionally, the extra security afforded by digitizing and cloud-storing information—in healthcare as well as countless other industries—protects that information from uncontrollable circumstances, such as fires and natural disasters.

IoT is a collection of technology, people, processes, outcomes, and more. Most importantly, it’s how we—personally or as a business entity—choose to leverage that information that will lead to our success.

Just having the data captured is not the end game. How do you use the information once you’ve gathered it, stored it, and analyzed it?

You need to be able to apply that information and insight in meaningful ways—not just for the betterment of a business, but for the greater good of its users.

Connected technologies are transforming industries

IoT has not only shown us that data can be captured in different ways, but the shift to almost limitless data generation has allowed us to create opportunities in areas we never even conceived of before.

For example, agriculture.

Through digitization and IoT technology, farmers can better monitor their crops using sensors to collect data and transmit the information immediately.

In instances where crops are highly sensitive to frost damage, this information can save precious time to activating processes that prevent a freeze, such as turning on fog or mist machines.

Having data at our fingertips has opened the door for opportunities that simply weren’t available a decade ago.

And businesses have married this intelligence with practical use cases to yield amazing, smart services that are transforming the world.

Using IoT to mitigate supply chain risks and challenges

Consider the supply chain hiccups as the 2020 pandemic struck.

According to a study released by Deloitte, more than 200 of the Fortune Global 500 businesses have a presence in Wuhan, China—the region associated with the genesis of COVID-19.

This region is also a huge global manufacturing base. So when the virus began to spread and disrupt supplies in Wuhan, it created a ripple effect that affected supply chains around the world.

Similar supply chain issues have been rampant around the globe as the virus impacted many manufacturers and distribution networks as workers became sick and facilities had to close due to outbreaks.

According to the study, the advent of the IoT is a crucial component to the digital supply network. By being able to track inventory levels digitally, businesses have a better chance of keeping materials moving into their businesses.

According to IoT Marketing, there are three key areas where manufacturing businesses can benefit from IoT-driven innovations. These innovations have transformed operations and mitigated supply chain issues.

1. Risk management

As mentioned in the Deloitte study, collected data gives businesses the opportunity to make changes within their supply chains to mitigate material and product shortages.

2. Large scale intelligence

Melding IoT with AI helps develop better insights into possible weaknesses in supply chains.

A solution might involve looking at getting supplies from a region not impacted by a particular challenge—not only pandemic-related shortages, but also areas that may be impacted by a natural disaster or other challenges.

3. Quick response to challenges

When there’s an issue in the supply chain, businesses can engage in a data-sharing platform to solicit—or offer—solutions.

IoT enhances asset monitoring

When the supply chain is solid and a business is able to bring in the goods it needs, do they know where those goods are from the time they’re ordered until delivery?

As the challenges of 2020 have proven, it’s easy for things to get lost or damaged in the shuffle.

Roambee is a goods and assets monitoring business with services including in-transit monitoring. It isn’t just about putting a tracking number on a package anymore; it’s about actually monitoring goods that require extra oversight.

For example, vaccines or medicines have needed to be rerouted as lockdowns closed airports. But they not only need to be routed differently, they also need to be monitored with sensors to ensure the product is kept at an acceptable temperature.

With sensors like Roambee’s, not only can products that are temperature sensitive be monitored for fluctuations, but the shipping containers they’re traveling in can also be monitored to ensure they have enough power to keep the product at a consistent temperature.

IoT innovation is digitally transforming cities and populations

The smart technologies made possible by data collection don’t just help track things, though. They can also track the movement of people. This is transforming the ways cities operate and how populations function within them.

For example, sensors can monitor where vehicle traffic is changing, which can help commuters get to work more quickly and emergency personnel to rapidly and safely navigate city streets.

And as more and more people are moving around in post-lockdown areas, other IoT players are helping to manage the transition safely.

For example, with Meshed—an Australian business that connects cities and industries with IoT technology—communities can collect data on how many people are moving around within them. It may call to mind science fiction-esque concerns about ‘Big Brother’ watching; however, Meshed insists this tracking is anonymous.

As Catherine Caruana-McManus, Director of Meshed, wrote:

“Interoperable and standards-based Smart Cities, IoT technologies and data-sharing models enable cross government and private sector collaboration to minimize death rates, manage public health and resource allocation, asset efficiencies and social hygiene effectiveness.”

Another monitoring business called MySignals helps keep an eye on a variety of health parameters, such as oxygen levels, temperature, and blood pressure. Its goal is to avoid overwhelming medical centers. This can help keep people safe and reduce the expansion of pandemics like COVID-19.

And circling back to the field of healthcare, digital transformation may one day render in-person doctor appointments archaic.

Who would have imagined in early 2019 how quickly the face of healthcare would change? Then came the pandemic in 2020.

Yet, as technology has advanced on many fronts—from more efficient data collection and secure, HIPAA-approved data storage—the medical profession was poised to quickly transform the healthcare industry with the implementation of health monitoring systems and other proven telehealth approaches.

IoT-led digital transformation approaches still in its infancy

Just like Porsche is always updating its business practices to capitalize on advancements, other businesses need to keep moving forward with innovations. This is now a competitive necessity with more disruptions coming thanks to IoT.

IoT-based innovations have come a long way over the past several years to increase convenience, flexibility, and safety for people. These advances are far-reaching, touching all aspects of how we live and work.

And consumers have embraced these innovations, changing the customer profile to demand those same benefits from the companies they do business with.

Of course, these innovations also come with business challenges that can impede successful monetization. For example, usage tracking across devices and IoT billing across these devices can be a roadblock to a go-to-market strategy.

Digitization isn’t just about having the newest piece of technology in your hand. The movement to digitize, led by IoT innovations, has paved the road for changing the way we all interact, both in our lives and throughout our business processes.


Written by:

Mariah Patterson
Mariah Patterson
Freelance Writer

Mariah Patterson is a former journalist with diverse writing interests. As a regular writer on the Stax Bill blog, Mariah taps into the years of combined knowledge of the subject matter experts at Stax Bill. She loves to highlight ways to improve business efficiency in the SaaS and subscription business worlds.
Enjoying fiction and nonfiction alike, she has published a children’s book and will be publishing her first novel later this year. Mariah lives in Maine and captures her family’s exploits in her blog.