When technologists talk about the “internet of things,” those “things” are often pretty big: vehicles, factory machinery, even people. But sometimes the best use of connectivity is subtle. Cantaloupe Systems, a San Francisco company that manages vending machines, monitors a network of 100,000 snack and beverage machines scattered across the U.S. It is CEO Mandeep Arora’s job to keep those machines stocked, but persuading operators to use software to do it adroitly proved next to impossible. After a call to Jasper Technologies, a cloud computing company in nearby Mountain View, Arora was able to wire the machines so that employees could monitor them from afar. Items out of stock, temperature changes, thieves—
the smart vending machine knows all. Now that’s supply and demand. —Brittany Shoot
This story appears in the November 17, 2014 issue of Fortune.