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Business Outcomes and Experiences: Taking IOT momentum to the next level

EIC_Alliances

By Saadat Malik, VP, IoT and Intelligent Edge Services

Growing focus on Business Outcomes in IOT  

w walking w laptop.jpgGetting to a tangible ROI has been a consistent challenge in the IOT space. Many IOT projects globally have failed to deliver on tangible business value. The reasons are varied and range from technology complexity to a lack of focus on non-technical change management. Whatever the reasons might be, it has led to a very healthy focus in the IOT space recently on tangible business outcomes. Both vendors and customers are starting to drive squarely for these types of outcomes, whether in terms of top line growth, bottom line enhancements or improved management of risk for both. 

Indeed, proof points of this focus are clear in some of the work we at HPE have been undertaking with our customers, deploying solutions that solve for specific business outcomes such as:

  • Perspective maintenance for manufacturing customers
  • AI- and ML-based Video quality control for manufacturing plants
  • Solutions for improving real estate utilization leveraging intelligent workspace technologies. 

What are Experiences and how are they different from Business Outcomes? 

While the momentum towards business outcomes in the IOT arena is the right way to go and very reassuring, another key indicator of customer success is rapidly becoming evident: the Customer Experience. 

In a nutshell, Customer Experience is how the users of the solution perceive and feel about their work environment once the business outcomes’ focused solutions have been implemented and the outcomes achieved. It is entirely possible for a customer to achieve a business outcome such as reducing in the cost of defective items, while also not having a very positive experience – or at best a neutral experience - for the company and/or its employees. This experience is what ultimately determines the long-term adoption of the business outcome within a company environment and how they are able to translate this success into more successes using IOT technologies.   

To further elaborate, I will share here a discussion I had with a customer recently. This customer is one of the largest operators of food packaging plants globally. They have been implementing Intelligent Edge solutions from HPE to gain real time AI/ML based decision-making capability on their plant floors for quality control. 

While we were discussing the gains they have had from these deployments, one of their leaders raised concerns that our successes may be somewhat hollow. He went on to explain that while we were achieving the desired results (business outcomes) in terms of reducing downtime on the floor, the workers on the factory floor did not really understand how the IT equipment and the new processes we had implemented around it were functioning and impacting their work environment. To them it was all a black box they were having to deal with. If something went wrong, they were liable to put all blame squarely on the new solution and take no ownership. Further their commitment and engagement in improving the new solutions was limited. 

In short, while the solutions were producing great value for the customer, the experience the users were having with the solution was sub-optimal, potentially leading to an outcome not as deeply rooted as we had hoped. The result was that discussions for new solutions aimed at producing similar outcomes were being met with resistance and any issues with the existing solution were showcased as examples of why the change was bad and risk unmanageable. 

We agreed on a plan to improve the experience of the floor employees through a series of trainings, enhancements to the dashboards so that the floor employees could understand in their own terminology what the solution was doing and finally, a closed loop mechanism to gather and implement feedback from the floor workers to enhance the workings of the system. We are hoping that this will result in improvements in the experiences the customer is having, further cementing the current solution and paving the way for future IOT enhancements.  

Bringing together Business Outcome and Experiences in IOT  

As showcased in the last example, we as an industry, are reaching a critical new juncture in our IOT journey. We are making a strong transition towards focusing on business outcomes – a critical step to resolving the ROI issues that plagued the earlier IOT deployments. However, we now must also focus on the next frontier, which is combining business outcomes with experiences. We must create environments for our customers where they not only achieve the business outcomes but also are left with lasting positive memories and feeling of ownerships and satisfaction with the solutions that were used to create the business outcomes. 

This is especially important in areas where we are bringing the IT (information technology) and OT (operations technology) sides of the house together to implement solutions and run the risk of leaving one or the other side without a strong positive experience with the solution. These experiences can be achieved in a variety of ways ranging from product interfaces that make intuitive sense to the audience which is using them, self-healing capabilities in the technology that reduce the friction that a product itself may introduce into the environment and trainings and change managements methodologies to help create ownership in the new solutions.  

In summary, we must continue our march towards business outcomes in IOT. However, we must take the path that provides memorable experiences for the people who will be using these solutions day in and day out. That is the only way for us to accelerate and cement the gains that IOT promises to bring to our many industry verticals.  

Saadat Malik.jpgSaadat Malik is HPE’s Vice President responsbile for its IoT and Intelligent Edge Services. He leads an organization focused on developing solutions and services for customers that are looking to transform their businesses leveraging IoT and Intelligent Edge capabilities. Achieving this digital transformation requires a holistic strategy that builds and brings to bear capabilities in all aspects and areas of a customer’s environment. Malik’s organization partners with customers to develop this overall strategy with a special focus on ensuring that the right people, process and technology capabilities are built and deployed at the perimeter (edge) of the customer’s environments where most of the business actually gets transacted. Examples of this edge include a manufacturing plant floor, an oil rig, a company’s campus, a power plant as well as a battlefield

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