Become digital disruptors by focusing on the what and not the how

The past year has seen the pace of innovation accelerate across virtually all industries. This rate of change also creates a growing digital divide between innovators and laggards — those companies that have yet to embrace digital innovation. To put it simply, either you’re disrupting or you’re being disrupted — there is almost no in-between. 

Five years ago the narrative around digital transformation was already making headlines but the cost and the development effort required for meaningful transformation was still out of reach for most companies. In the past few years a number of emerging technologies have lowered the cost and effort required, putting meaningful digital transformations within reach.  

The combination of low-cost, scalable cloud computing combined with artificial intelligence and low-cost IoT sensors make digital transformation more practical than it was previously.   It allows companies to aggregate their data across systems and develop innovative new offerings that take advantage of the inherent value of their data.  Today, it’s realistic and indeed imperative for even the most traditional of companies, not only to digitize their data and processes but to become innovators, even disruptors, in their own industries. Because the low-cost availability of these technologies also gives advantage to competitors who aren’t burdened by the traditional business and will eventually disrupt every industry and company that doesn’t digitally evolve.  

What’s changed? Technology platforms like SensorUp allow customers to realise their digital future by focussing on what to offer in the market rather than how to deliver it.  This takes advantage of the inherent industry knowledge of internal teams and prevents having to build a significant new engineering team to deliver the new digital offerings.

The growing gap between innovators and laggards 

There are two trends driving digital transformation right now. The first trend is not new — virtually every industry is being disrupted by a company with a digital approach. Startups with digital-first solutions are eating traditional companies’ lunch. Leveraging concepts like just-in-time inventory and logistics, they are able to keep startup and operating costs low and remain extremely competitive with traditional players. But that’s old news, as it’s a trend that’s been emerging for 10-15 years.

The second driver of digital transformation is COVID. Companies that hadn’t already invested in digital simply weren’t able to react as quickly as the ones who were already digitizing internal processes, enjoying better visibility into production operations, and deploying better remote management options. As a result, they were hit hard during the pandemic. They would’ve been better prepared to quickly react to this massive changing set of market conditions. 

As a result, the divide between the disruptors and the disrupted continues to widen. It can be felt throughout all areas of the company. It’s not just losing market share to these new innovators. It’s also become harder to recruit talent, and to retain the best and brightest workers, especially in industries experiencing volatility and uncertainty. 

The barrier for digital transformation has never been lower 

The biggest barrier to doing digital transformation is not having all of your data in one place. IoT data alone, for example, doesn’t have as much value as when you can combine it with logistics and/or financials. Most companies already possess the aptitude to collect, display, and analyze their data from disparate sources. The hard part is in combining the sources, maintaining security, and automating the processes that produce real-time outcomes. Platforms like SensorUp have put all of this within reach even for industrial companies with no existing digital strategy.  

With a platform, these traditional companies are able to:

  • Connect their existing sensors and systems
  • Visualize their real-time operations
  • Use ai to predict problems before they happen
  • Implement workflows and automate field processes 
  • Develop digital applications for customers, partners and employees
  • Innovate at the speed of ideas

By combining the power of platforms with the expertise of the right partners, traditional companies are able to punch well above their weight class, digitally speaking. 

Platforms help internal teams accelerate the time to value

When teams within these traditional industries are tasked with a digital transformation project, they can leverage the use of platforms to get their ideas to market faster. Cloud platforms are useful in that they provide a sandbox for developers, but most in-house teams don’t have the resources or knowledge to hire a team of developers that can build the full-stack infrastructure that an effective digital product needs. What they do have in spades, however, is subject matter expertise. 

For industrial companies looking to innovate, a cloud platform is not enough. Atop the cloud layer, they also need a data layer, so they can combine and make sense of their IoT data in a meaningful way. At SensorUp, we operate as a platform with a service layer, by design. It means companies can use our team as an extension of their own, to de-risk their projects and accelerate their time to value.

Our platform technology is incredibly flexible and extensible. We helped define the Open Geospatial Consortium’s SensorThings standard and built it into the core of the SensorUp platform so we can ingest data from literally any sensor or data sources and merge it together into an observation- and location-centric schema.

How platforms and partners reduce risk and add value 

In the same way your team has deep domain knowledge in your industry, so do we. My Co-founder is a PHD-level data scientist, Dr. Steve Liang, who has spent his whole career on defining standards in geospatial data. 

We also have a team of brilliant developers and we’ve invested millions of dollars (and five years) building a platform that can handle the complex data management that companies need. Our platform, the product of our years of work, along with our guidance and support, make us a valuable companion in the digital transformation process. 

How to develop bespoke digital products that reinvent your industry

If you’re getting started with a digital transformation project, or envisioning a new product to help solve market problems, it’s always smart to start with the same step. First, identify the problems you most want to solve. For our partner Cando Rail, they wanted to help their shippers understand exactly where their railcars were in real time, so they could deploy strategies to help move them to their destinations faster. 

Then they took it one step further. By adding a connection to their logistics and expenses data, they were able to identify where their shipments were and also pinpoint the exact costs of transporting them. Best of all, they can calculate the exact cost of when those shipments stop moving and they can deploy resources to get them moving faster. 

By first aligning on the specific problems they were solving, they were able to prioritize a set of features and functions to address them. In other words, they started with a focus on the what, not the how.  

Partnering with SensorUp to de-risk your projects and innovate faster

Once you’ve identified the problems you’re solving, meet with our team and let us connect your desired outcomes to the “how.” Our team of data scientists and software engineers will guide you through the process of combining all of your data into a single hub, and building the tools that will help you leverage that data to disrupt your industry. 

Be the innovator, not the laggard

Platforms are growing in popularity as a way for the industrial sector to solve their problems, helping them do more with less, reduce waste, and innovate faster for the future. Partnering with software development experts like us can help reduce the risk, reduce the time to market, and increase the value and capacity of the resulting product. 

Whether you’re still having those internal discussions about the problems you most need to solve, or if you’ve already envisioned your product or digital transformation, book a time to meet with our team so we can share some of our expertise and get your digital initiative started on a solid foundation.