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From life-saving supplies to take-out pizza, IoT-powered services can deliver incredible monitoring capabilities to businesses and their customers, tracking products in transit, as well as driver behavior. I recently saw a demonstration of how sensor-based navigation can disrupt business and industries using IoT-based services operating anywhere – within vast warehouses, across oceans, and on streets, trains and planes.

Designed as a game on the show floor at the SAP TechEd event, developers were challenged to “drive” a miniature, sensor-tagged vehicle (at right) through a maze as fast as possible, without bumping into the sides of the enclosure. The challenge was created to mirror the obstacles companies face competing in a hyper-connected world, and Joe Binkley, Senior Director, SAP Cloud Platform Marketing, gave me the inside story during our VIDEO interview (below).

“This is a fun way for us to demonstrate a serious business problem. If your business is delivering precious goods, whether it’s fine china or schoolchildren on a school bus, having the ability to monitor the process by which they travel to their destination is huge,” said Binkley. “In our challenge, the vehicle is a lot more fun to drive than a school bus or a delivery van, but the premise is the same. Companies can use technologies like robotics and IoT to change business processes and digitally transform their business.”

Tracking smartens business

A scoreboard (at right) displayed data uploaded from the sensors on the vehicle as it traveled through the maze, including how many times the delivery vehicles bumped against the walls of the maze, and how long it took to reach the finish line. This is the kind of tracking businesses can use every day.

“In the real world, a business would have a scoreboard monitoring their van or business drivers, collecting and acting on data showing whether the goods are at the right temperature or in the right places as scheduled,” said Binkley. “Sensors could also monitor if a driver was fatigued or the vehicle was in danger of breaking down, sending alerts to take steps that would prevent problems.”

He added that the vehicle was built using the SAP Cloud Platform service, Rapid-Application Development by Mendix (RAD), part of SAP’s growing set of IoT-based services.

Industry estimates predict billions of IoT-based sensors will surround us by 2020. Making business sense of all that data is the next challenge.

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Watch All My VIDEO Interview Replays at SAP TechEd