SAP aims to succeed in the cloud – but can it be the next IoT giant?

Picture credit: SAP

Opinion Industry leaders in each sector are carving out their share of the IoT market. The latest to stake a claim is SAP, the world’s largest inter-enterprise software company and the world’s fourth-largest independent software supplier, overall.

When the company was founded by five former IBM employees in 1972, the original premise was to provide customers with a way of interacting with common corporate databases. Now, the most common application of SAP software is to run internal business operations; both IBM and Microsoft use SAP applications to run their enterprises.

With an established claim on business-level software, it is easy to see why SAP would be working feverishly to ensure that they do not lose ground as demand for IoT business solutions increases. SAP recently acquired PLAT.ONE, an IoT platform/solutions provider and Fedem Technology, an analytics software company. Both companies are being integrated into SAP HANA in support of their launch of SAP IoT, set to focus on “applying machine learning/advanced analytics to the vast amount of data that IoT devices collect.”

SAP IoT in action

The company is already testing the waters in a few applications. A mining company in Russia uses SAP IoT to monitor the health of mine workers in an effort to reduce safety and health risks on the jobsite. Employees undergo a health screening, performed by a robotic device, prior to each shift. The results of the screening are fed to mining leaders and used to calculate potential health and safety hazards and the long-term impacts of environmental working conditions on employees.

In Japan, a public transit company is using a connected sensor in combination with weather monitoring, traffic monitoring and other data to increase the safety of their commuters. Information on driver behavior and biofeedback is delivered to a monitoring center where alerts are created when a potentially unsafe condition arises. This information allows the monitoring facility to respond with plans that promote the safety and well-being of the passengers and drivers.

SAP is even working in the energy sector in Norway where IoT devices are connected to wind turbines in the field to feed data back to engineers. The teams use the data to power scale-models of wind turbines and analyze the potential impact of weather conditions and changes to the design using real-world data. Meanwhile other industry giants are staking an IoT claim.

General Electric supports industry

In the industrial space, GE has become a clear frontrunner. The company’s initiative, dubbed “Power of the 1%” is predicted to save billions of dollars over the next fifteen years; GE claims that a 1% increase in efficiency will save the oil and gas industry $90 billion; aviation $66 billion, healthcare $63 billion and rail $27 billion. These efficiencies are driven primarily by GE’s Predix platform, a PaaS solution that is billed as laying “the foundation for the world’s first and largest marketplace for industrial applications.” In its mature state, Predix will bring together industrial data from multiple companies and applications to drive better understanding of field data, improve designs and decrease the financial burden associated with maintenance.

Google covers the home

Google has already been incorporated into the daily lives of many users. We use it communicate in real-time with friends and family via Hangouts, Google’s Calendar integrates with nearly every other calendar platform making it easy to plan family events and keep tabs on schedules; and through the purchase of Nest, Google is building a connected home experience that will be driven from our Android phones.

IBM is building the backend

Supporting much of the connected technology is IBM’s Bluemix portfolio; a service that gives developers the tools they need to “quickly and easily extend Internet-connected devices to the cloud to not only leverage data from, but also to build an IoT application in just a few minutes.”

This capability is giving companies the power they need to adapt existing technologies to compete in a cloud-based world.

While SAP may be the current front-runner in connected business solutions, history has shown us that it does not take much to lose footing in this competitive space. The major players in each sector primarily gain ground through the acquisition of companies that have perfected specific solutions in their niche and then incorporating the intellectual property into their own products. Maintaining leadership status requires a combination of development activities and intelligent acquisition of best-in-class solutions.

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