Trust is a competitive differentiator. The same holds true for IoT trust in analytics, processes, software, equipment and people from the sensor-enabled connected devices and platforms which are the hallmark of the IoT.
However, it is important to look before you leap into the IoT ecosystem.
- First, an organization must have sound IoT business and manufacturing processes in place.
- Then they must focus on creating an organizational structure and culture which leverages data in decision making.
- Finally, the organization must learn to collaborate when developing the right questions to ask from the data.
These issues are disruptive to many organizations currently grappling with how to manage digital transformation.
“Companies can get sucked in by all the IoT hype, but the challenge for many is that they don’t typically have activity-based accounting in place to know what their true process costs are. So they leap in with a faith-based approach, rather than developing a financially and strategically correct business case,” says Terri Lewis, solutions and technology manager, Caterpillar. Lewis’ division provides advanced technologies and services to help customers get more productivity and efficiency out of equipment and more effectively manage equipment fleets and operations.
IoT trust leverages a strong culture of collaboration across departmental silos.
Like Bosch, GE and Siemens, Caterpillar realized the IoT ecosystem called for moving beyond their legacy brand, business model and organizational structure. Their customers wrestled with digitally transforming their own companies and looked to Caterpillar to provide timely, IoT-based guidance and solutions.
Caterpillar already made great products and had deep domain expertise. However, the IoT ecosystem challenged them – and their customers – to do things, differently.
Gaps were identified in IoT-readiness of product mix and domain expertise. Business process improvements resulted from collaborating internally as well as with customers and dealers. As a result of continuous and ongoing collaboration, Caterpillar increased and diversified the depth, breadth and integration of their relationships with the channel and their customers.
To build a culture of IoT trust, assess the strength of your existing assets: people, processes, software and equipment.
In collaborating with dealers and clients, Caterpillar realized that customers were more interested in enhancing the flexibility and variety of capabilities they provided to their own clientele. That requirement translated into Caterpillar’s providing IoT-enabled leasing, capabilities and data analysis services, rather than continuing to tie up a client’s working capital in dedicated capital equipment ownership.
In addition, internal employees now were asked to collaborate across departmental silos, often working on cross-functional projects. Then these internal teams worked with client teams on specific business cases. Inserting the people factor, and domain expertise, into the IoT mix enhanced Caterpillar’s value to clients.
As a result, Caterpillar organizational culture morphed. As Lewis continued to manage her division’s digital transformation, internal teams started to “think like the customer, act like a startup (risk analysis, proof of concept) and leverage their growing domain expertise.”
Creating a culture of collaboration and IoT trust leads to innovation.
Lewis’ Energy & Transportation organization collaborates with other Caterpillar divisions to connect technology and services that have been identified as critical to value creation for clients, dealers and Caterpillar. Services clients can select include the use of various electronics, software, sensors, and communication and analytics platforms. Output from these services creates a proprietary set of data each client uses, at the very least, for asset management, condition and remote monitoring.
Caterpillar wanted to avoid becoming just another big data feed for their customers. Instead, they leveraged their culture of collaboration and big data as a platform for new product and service innovation.
Caterpillar realized that being in the leasing and rental business meant that they needed to make the entire customer and end user experience easier. There’s a difference between owning equipment and leasing equipment. Often, end users of leased equipment do not have the depth of operational knowledge that an owner has.
As a result, Caterpillar created a portable augmented reality interface on an iPad or tablet in order to deliver how-to-use information to the field. In addition, customer and developer collaboration resulted in the creation of virtual reality platforms. These platforms allowed engineers to look inside machinery, locate a defective part and be instructed on replacement processes.
IoT trust is about people collaborating about data.
Caterpillar’s products and services now focus on providing consultative services related to big data generated by embedded sensors and collected and analyzed across various proprietary software platforms. Data generated from leasing Caterpillar equipment serves as a catalyst for each customer’s and dealer’s growth.
Lewis emphasizes that “if a customer cannot trust you with their data, then you won’t get the [initial] sale.” Implementation of a digital, IoT-enabled transportation and energy ecosystem calls for always having the customer’s back. This type of IoT trust becomes engrained in the supplier’s, dealer’s and client’s culture.
According to Lewis, the initiative resulted in creating “deeper, richer, more fully integrated relationships with the customers… with the dealers right smack in the middle of it… It’s a lot less about the technology. You can keep up with the technology, but it’s really about focusing on the customer.”
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention in the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring, developing and implementing teams of collaborative technical, engineering, sales and business professionals. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, catalyzing teams to create enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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