How to build a connected enterprise

As we become more connected to the machine world, we can make the world of work, work better for people

connected enterprise
  • All aspects of business operations are being digitized, creating the potential for more powerful and efficient work experiences
  • Companies need to make key operational changes to the enterprise to capitalize on these trends
  • Building a connected enterprise locks in long-term competitive advantages

A manufacturer is using sensors to detect issues on its operating lines. A sensor detects a problem on line seven: a crucial part is at high risk of failure. The sensor relays a text message to the line operator. The operator grabs her phone, snaps a photo of the failing part, and sends it with notes to the engineering team. The engineering team diagnoses the problem and sends a note back to the operator. The issue is resolved in minutes.

That’s already happening at a European beer manufacturer at more than 40 breweries around the world. Over time, the information gathered is creating history and knowledge about the operations in each plant. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, the information can be correlated for common errors, and remediations can be created and predicted. Processes and workflows can be changed to help optimize each machine on every line at every factory.

The connected enterprise leverages all the data at its disposal to make smarter decisions.

This is the power of a connected enterprise, one of the most important business trends of the next few decades. No longer will manufacturers have operators on every line using clipboards to generate paper reports on production issues. No longer will factory lines be shut down for hours, causing disruption to the manufacturing process and costing companies thousands of dollars per hour.

The connected enterprise uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to integrate physical and IT processes. This means that all aspects of a business’s operations are digitized, and the combination of people and technology creates more powerful and efficient business processes and models.

The connectivity boom

It’s just a matter of time before digitization with IoT takes hold, as enterprises become more and more connected. By 2025, there will be 41.6 billion IoT-linked devices generating 79.4 zettabytes or 80 trillion gigabytes of data, according to the latest forecast from IDC.

In the last 10 years, mobile technology has revolutionized our personal lives, taking what is complex and making it simple, easy, and intuitive. As people become more connected, they will continue to have rising expectations for how we get work done. At ServiceNow we use our platform and solutions to get work done in the simplest, most effective ways possible.

As we become more connected to the machine world, we can use digital workflows and enhanced experiences to make the world of work, work better for people.

Many companies fail to create an effective connected enterprise despite heavy investment and good intentions. Between 70% and 80% of corporate business intelligence projects fail, according to Gartner. Typical reasons for failure include reliance on legacy technology, a lack of understanding of what business intelligence truly is, a bad user experience and not enough support from leadership.

The mobile enterprise foundation

For a connected enterprise to work, it must be built around physical and IT process and go through the following stages to become operational:

  1. Assessment. Evaluate all aspects of your existing IT/OT structure, including legacy structures
  2. Secure and upgrade. Update security, the IT/OT structure and modernize it to enable connectivity from operations to enterprise business systems
  3. Working data capital. Define available data to improve decision-making
  4. Operational benefits. Leverage predictive capabilities to improve planning, asset management, execution and quality
  5. Optimization. Create policies and processes that focus on either incremental or larger process improvements with customers and suppliers.

IT has a strategic role to play in creating the connected enterprise. By determining the right processes, data, and digital workflows, asset effectiveness can improve virtually overnight.

The payoffs

Companies can reap several advantages if they get it right. One of the biggest is the ability to make smarter decisions. The connected enterprise leverages all the data at its disposal to make decisions that optimize operations and resources, based on easy-to-use tools. For example, universities that share data across dozens of departments, schools, and campuses can now make decisions more effectively and quickly.

Another benefit is increased productivity. Predictive applications can pull and analyze data from thousands of smart devices to see areas where productivity can be improved.
Similarly, IoT sensors help distribution companies track transport and delivery of products so they can manage arrival times and logistics more accurately. This generates new insight into inventory tracking and rerouting, which in turn helps companies optimize stock and reduce over-ordering.

Customer service is another area where the connected enterprise can pay big dividends. Using communication and automation, connected enterprises can design and deliver compelling, friction-free customer experiences. For example, if a marketing offer promises customers they’ll get something overnight but operations and supply chain can’t fulfill it, then you’re not executing on that promise. Ensuring all areas are connected can change consumer and competitive landscapes.

Connected enterprise applications will impact every industry from automotive to healthcare to manufacturing. Companies are using this technology to gather more data, produce better models for machine learning, and provide higher levels of automation. As we start connecting all that data with processes and people, there is virtually no limit to the business benefits we can achieve.