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On the heels of Sapphire NOW 2016, which recently wrapped up in Orlando, the energy and fervor are still palpable.  For those fortunate enough to attend, this one stood out above the rest.  Perhaps it was the opportunity to see the superstar rock band Coldplay perform live on stage, or the contagious high energy buzz and innovative spirit permeating the conference auditorium with thousands of Sapphire attendees.  One thing is certain, it was truly an event to remember.

Among the consistent themes evangelized throughout the conference and underscored in all of the keynote presentations, was “LIVE Business” which focuses on the digital core, agile business processes and real-time data to empower intelligent decision-making.  With the next Internet Revolution, SAP is paving the way as a technology front runner and key market player, particularly in the IoT space.  The Internet of Things is here to stay and vital for businesses to survive and thrive in this increasingly competitive digital economy.  IoT enabling technology is ready and available, so it’s time for enterprises to re-imagine and re-invent their existing business processes in a connected world and embrace new technology and innovation to facilitate imminent change, change that will revolutionize how businesses operate, optimize, predict and transform in the new digital age.

As advocated at Sapphire, SAP is helping enterprises re-imagine their business in a hyper-connected digital world, leveraging IoT technology and Big Data analytics powered by SAP HANA and the HANA Cloud Platform.  At the forefront of IoT innovation, SAP is delivering a new breed of innovative IoT solutions for Smart Connected Businesses, under the leadership of Elvira Wallis.  Smart Connected Business aims to co-innovate with leading cross-industry customers and build standard IoT solutions, delivered on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, connecting asset and sensor data to critical end-to-end business processes which enhance customer service and the consumer experience, enable data-driven decisions and provide actionable insights to maximize profit.

Smart Connected Business unveiled two newly proposed IoT solutions at Sapphire, currently under development at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, CA, one of which was featured in the Digital Boardroom keynote, presented by SAP’s Chief Operating Officer.  Planned for release later this year, the first solution known as Digital Spaces initially targets the Retail industry but also applies across a wide range of industry verticals.  Digital Spaces helps optimize retail store operations and performance, while monitoring consumer behavior in the physical store, to better understand behavioral patterns and actions which impact buying decisions and ultimately profit.  The solution relies on Wi-Fi sensors, cameras and beacon technology to show traffic patterns of people, crowds, and things, visualized on a heat map.  Understanding these types of physical activities in the context of business (e.g. sales data) provides actionable insights to answer critical business questions.  Why are products in a particular department selling more than others?  What is the most popular aisle in the store?  Where do customers spend most of their time?  Where do they stop and engage?  How often do they come back? 

With these questions in mind, let’s imagine the possibilities and re-imagine your business.  What if your retail business could capture this type of physical data in real-time and make intelligent decisions on the fly?  Similar to website traffic data (e.g. clicks), answers to these types of questions can help retailers improve store design and layout, enhance the shopper experience and develop targeted marketing campaigns or promotions to boost sales and increase customer loyalty.  Just one example of LIVE Business with unlimited possibilities.

The second IoT solution for Smart Connected Business, also announced at Sapphire, explores connected things with intelligence at the edge, in the context of high volume, low value assets and consumer products, such as coffee makers, soap dispensers, beverage coolers or water heaters.  Performance metrics are collected via Wi-Fi sensors to gain deeper insights on product usage patterns, service or machine quality, consumer engagement, or brand penetration.  This allows enterprises, especially key industry sectors like wholesale distribution and manufacturing, to create more targeted marketing campaigns, compare usage across different regions with geo-location heat maps and identify correlations among product usage and asset data.  Error trending insights can be analyzed to better understand machine errors and improve service quality or replenishment.  Replenishment data and service alerts can also help identify plans for inventory replenishment at distribution centers and retail stores, to prevent out-of-stock, which can adversely impact revenue and customer satisfaction.

Let's consider the replenishment example mentioned above and, once again, imagine the possibilities for your business.  What if your retail business received real-time data and key performance metrics to proactively alert your Distribution Managers of the potential risk for out-of-stock inventory, based on consumer buying patterns, historical, service, or sensor data for example, allowing you to replenish and re-stock your store shelves and distribution centers with minimal business disruption.  The consumers get what they need, when they need it in real-time, increasing customer satisfaction, and your shelves never sit empty, minimizing potential profit loss.  It’s a win-win for the consumer and the enterprise.  Another compelling example of LIVE Business and data-driven decision making to enable business transformation, directly impacting your bottom line.

Digital technology is unequivocally redefining how different industry sectors market and sell their products in a connected world, enhance the consumer experience and maximize profitability.  These types of innovative IoT solutions bring them one step closer to realizing their vision and digital transformation strategy.  Whether you've already embarked on your digital transformation journey or don't know where to begin, SAP can help pave the way for success and partner with you to explore innovative IoT solutions and possibilities, as you re-imagine your business.

Learn more about SAP’s IoT Solutions and Services.