WIRING THE WORLD AROUND US, FROM ENERGY TO ELEVATORS Smartphones were only the beginning. The world around us is gaining Internet connectivity and it’s changing the way we work and live. We can now predict when elevators will break down long before they do, connect light bulbs to a common network, monitor personal health, and track inanimate objects across continents. This session will bring together executives from different corners of this world to discuss where it’s headed next. Patrick Bass, CEO, thyssenkrupp North America Jennifer Fonstad, Managing Partner, Aspect Ventures William Lynch, CEO, Savant Jill Stelfox, Vice President, Zebra Technologies Chuck Swoboda, CEO, Cree Shane Wall, CTO, HP Inc. Moderator: Barb Darrow, Senior Writer, Fortune
PHOTOGRAPH BY Kevin Moloney/Fortune Brainstorm TECH
By Jonathan Vanian
July 12, 2016

Connecting devices like wind turbines and thermostats to the Internet to accumulate data is just one piece of the puzzle for companies looking to cash in the so-called Internet of things movement. But possibly the most important task for those companies to consider will be how to extract value from all that data they obtain.

Patrick Bass, CEO of ThyssenKrupp North America, elaborated on how employees and customers of the steel and technology conglomerate are benefiting from, of all things, connected elevators while speaking on a panel at Fortune’s Brainstorm Technology conference on Tuesday.

It’s not the fact that ThyssenKrupp can connect elevators to the web that’s special, Bass explained, but the ways it is using the data being accumulated. With the elevator data, Bass can track how many people cram into certain elevators during the day, where those people may be moving around in buildings, and to which floors in department stores are attracting a lot of customers.

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In the end, all this customer data gleaned from the elevators can help retailers improve their business.

“IoT is not an IT project,” said Bass in reference to the importance of collected data to management teams and not just IT administrators. “It is a business process project.”

One attendee in the audience during the breakfast session stressed keeping business strategy in mind, arguing that far too often, companies act as if all they have to do is connect devices to the Internet, and their businesses will magically improve.

But if the companies don’t formulate a business plan on how to use and deploy that data, all that pool of information could end up just being wasted.

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“And drones, there has to be drones,” she said as the audience chuckled at the naivety of the idea that simply using drones will improve a business.


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