The internet has made us smart. To be precise, it has given us a universally-accessible platform by which we can store and share unlimited knowledge. And that has allowed us to find, process and apply data in greater quantities and at far greater speeds than we could two or three decades ago.
Though we like to believe that our individual intelligence quotients have increased over time because of the internet, the only thing we know for sure is that the internet has most definitely increased the intelligence quotients of enterprises. Zebra’s Intelligent Enterprise Index is proof.
For the last three years, we have been surveying companies around the world to gauge their level of intelligence based on a set of 11 criteria defined by a diverse set of industry, government and academia thought leaders who convened at the 2016 Innovation Symposium: The Intelligent Enterprise at the Harvard University Technology and Entrepreneurship Center.
What we have found is a direct correlation between an enterprise’s intelligence score and the extent to which it has connected the physical and digital worlds. Specifically, the extent to which it has deployed Internet of Things (IoT) solutions across its organization to ensure that institutional knowledge can be extended all the way to workers at the edge – the “front-line force.”
Pushing the Limits of “Unlimited Information” to the Edge
We have no doubt become a society dependent on technology in the last 10 years. Even workers whose manual skills are most valuable to a company find that they become even more valuable when they have access to an internet-connected device that can provide real-time situational awareness and guidance.
Everyone from laborers on a production line to heavy machinery maintainers, retail store stockers and public safety professionals find it easier to do their jobs better, faster and with fewer errors when they have technology tools at their disposal. Specifically, mobile computing tools that are plugged into an IoT platform.
That is because “intelligence” systems that have an IoT platform (such as Zebra Savanna™) at the core are proving to be more effective in delivering the precise information that a worker needs to make the right decision and take the right action at the right time – at the precise time they need that information. Just look at what IoT is doing for the NFL, Problem Solutions and others. And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
As information systems converge, we’re seeing a symbiotic and more conversational relationship form between humans and machines – and that’s a good thing. No single person or entity holds all the answers to a problem. However, a single IoT platform can be used to aggregate all the data needed to sense, analyze and act on situations that either pose a risk to your business or present a revenue-generating opportunity. And that seems to be the main reason why there has been such a tremendous uptick in the global Intelligent Enterprise Index score year-over-year.
Record Number of Enterprises Now on the Path to Becoming “Intelligent”
According to the 2019 Intelligent Enterprise Index, 61 percent of enterprises worldwide are well on their way to becoming “intelligent,” compared to only 49 percent in 2018. In fact, efforts to become intelligent are intensifying on both a financial and operational scale.
Right now, enterprises are spending an average of $6.4 million on IoT solutions that increase their intelligence, and 86 percent of enterprises expect this number to grow in the next 1-2 years – with over half expecting to increase their investments by 21-50+ percent! Mind you, some of these survey respondents have as few as 250 employees and would be classified as a small-to-medium sized business (SMB).
Clearly, businesses of all sizes are deriving great value from emerging IoT strategies if they are committing such extensive resources to expanding their solutions to reach more workers and improve the outcomes of more workflows.
Here at Zebra, we know that IoT solutions can help to fuel critical operations and drive efficiency in many different ways. However, companies that participated in the 2019 Intelligent Enterprise Index report the biggest IoT impact and, thus, the biggest return on investment (ROI) in these three operational focus areas right now:
1. Improved customer experience
2. Improved safety
3. Collaboration between employees, customers, partners and suppliers
Although, the Index did reveal some variance in IoT utilization across vertical industries. We will address the different ways that retailers, manufacturers, transportation and logistics companies, warehouse operators and healthcare providers are using IoT solutions to improve intelligence in future blogs here on Your Edge.
Food for Thought: Technology Alone Can’t Increase Your Enterprise’s Intelligence
I know I’ve spent the last few minutes talking about the correlation between enterprises’ IoT investments and intelligence score. That’s what our Intelligence Enterprise Index measures. However, I sat down with Zebra’s Global Futurist Drew Ehlers recently to get his take on what it takes to be an “intelligent enterprise” and he raised a great point: technology alone won’t make you truly intelligent. As Drew explains in this short video interview, you may not get the ROI you want for your IoT investments if your company is lacking this one thing: