SAP hopes to help bring IoT to logistics and manufacturing

The next 18 months to two years will see a significant takeoff in the Internet of Things for businesses, SAP executive says

With a trio of products for maintenance, logistics and manufacturing, SAP is hoping to convince enterprises that it provides the best option for making the most of connected sensors.

Just like many other vendors, SAP has lofty ideas for what organizations adopting the first wave of IoT (Internet of Things) technologies can accomplish, in its case, using applications running on its cloud-based Hana platform.

"In my opinion, in the next 18 months to two years you'll see a significant takeoff," said David Parker, global vice president of SAP Big Data and Internet of Things.

SAP's goal with the Tuesday launches of the IoT-friendly Predictive Maintenance and Service, Manufacturing Execution and Connected Logistics is to make it easier for organizations by providing prepackaged software, according to Parker.

The Predictive Maintenance and Service package will help predict faults at manufacturing plants by looking at both historic data and real-time information from sensors, for example. For that to work, manufacturing equipment, in some cases down to a component level, has to be connected.

The package goes hand in hand with the Manufacturing Execution application, and what SAP calls connected manufacturing. The aim is to provide a bird's-eye view of all manufacturing resources and determine how to best optimize them.

Connected Logistics software will help keep track of everything that's happening in a warehouse, a port or other hubs. Efficiency can be improved by connecting boats coming into a port with departing trucks and the containers they transport, as well as with storage information.

Like any SAP system, hands-on work is still needed. But the new offerings are going to take enterprises 80 percent to 90 percent of the way, according to Parker. All three software packages are generally available, and more applications are on the way, he said

The impact of IoT will felt across all industries, according to Gartner. On Tuesday, the market research company said it expects 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from this year. Organizations have no choice but to pursue IoT, as they've done with the consumerization of IT, it said.

However, even if new IoT-focused applications from SAP and competitors like Oracle open the door for better analytics, enterprises need to tread lightly. Security is and will be a big challenge, and executives have to balance their desire to collect and analyze data with the risk of loss or misuse, according to Gartner.

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