An infographic showing the total Intelligent Enterprise Index scores for 2017, 2018 and 2019
By Therese Van Ryne | October 15, 2019

Are You Smarter Than the Average Company? New Tool Helps You Assess Your Enterprise’s “Intelligence”

Plus: Zebra’s 2019 Intelligent Enterprise Index reveals the most aggressive year-over-year growth in IoT investments yet. Global Futurist Drew Ehlers dissects the reasons why in a new video.

The internet has made us smart. To be precise, it has given us a universally-accessible platform by which we can store and share unlimited knowledge. And that has allowed us to find, process and apply data in greater quantities and at far greater speeds than we could two or three decades ago.

Though we like to believe that our individual intelligence quotients have increased over time because of the internet, the only thing we know for sure is that the internet has most definitely increased the intelligence quotients of enterprises. Zebra’s Intelligent Enterprise Index is proof.

For the last three years, we have been surveying companies around the world to gauge their level of intelligence based on a set of 11 criteria defined by a diverse set of industry, government and academia thought leaders who convened at the 2016 Innovation Symposium: The Intelligent Enterprise at the Harvard University Technology and Entrepreneurship Center.

What we have found is a direct correlation between an enterprise’s intelligence score and the extent to which it has connected the physical and digital worlds. Specifically, the extent to which it has deployed Internet of Things (IoT) solutions across its organization to ensure that institutional knowledge can be extended all the way to workers at the edge – the “front-line force.”

Pushing the Limits of “Unlimited Information” to the Edge

We have no doubt become a society dependent on technology in the last 10 years. Even workers whose manual skills are most valuable to a company find that they become even more valuable when they have access to an internet-connected device that can provide real-time situational awareness and guidance.

Everyone from laborers on a production line to heavy machinery maintainers, retail store stockers and public safety professionals find it easier to do their jobs better, faster and with fewer errors when they have technology tools at their disposal. Specifically, mobile computing tools that are plugged into an IoT platform.

That is because “intelligence” systems that have an IoT platform (such as Zebra Savanna™) at the core are proving to be more effective in delivering the precise information that a worker needs to make the right decision and take the right action at the right time – at the precise time they need that information. Just look at what IoT is doing for the NFL, Problem Solutions and others. And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

As information systems converge, we’re seeing a symbiotic and more conversational relationship form between humans and machines – and that’s a good thing. No single person or entity holds all the answers to a problem. However, a single IoT platform can be used to aggregate all the data needed to sense, analyze and act on situations that either pose a risk to your business or present a revenue-generating opportunity. And that seems to be the main reason why there has been such a tremendous uptick in the global Intelligent Enterprise Index score year-over-year.

Record Number of Enterprises Now on the Path to Becoming “Intelligent”

According to the 2019 Intelligent Enterprise Index, 61 percent of enterprises worldwide are well on their way to becoming “intelligent,” compared to only 49 percent in 2018. In fact, efforts to become intelligent are intensifying on both a financial and operational scale.

Right now, enterprises are spending an average of $6.4 million on IoT solutions that increase their intelligence, and 86 percent of enterprises expect this number to grow in the next 1-2 years – with over half expecting to increase their investments by 21-50+ percent! Mind you, some of these survey respondents have as few as 250 employees and would be classified as a small-to-medium sized business (SMB).

Clearly, businesses of all sizes are deriving great value from emerging IoT strategies if they are committing such extensive resources to expanding their solutions to reach more workers and improve the outcomes of more workflows.

Here at Zebra, we know that IoT solutions can help to fuel critical operations and drive efficiency in many different ways. However, companies that participated in the 2019 Intelligent Enterprise Index report the biggest IoT impact and, thus, the biggest return on investment (ROI) in these three operational focus areas right now:

1.       Improved customer experience

2.       Improved safety

3.       Collaboration between employees, customers, partners and suppliers

Although, the Index did reveal some variance in IoT utilization across vertical industries. We will address the different ways that retailers, manufacturers, transportation and logistics companies, warehouse operators and healthcare providers are using IoT solutions to improve intelligence in future blogs here on Your Edge.

Food for Thought: Technology Alone Can’t Increase Your Enterprise’s Intelligence

I know I’ve spent the last few minutes talking about the correlation between enterprises’ IoT investments and intelligence score. That’s what our Intelligence Enterprise Index measures. However, I sat down with Zebra’s Global Futurist Drew Ehlers recently to get his take on what it takes to be an “intelligent enterprise” and he raised a great point: technology alone won’t make you truly intelligent. As Drew explains in this short video interview, you may not get the ROI you want for your IoT investments if your company is lacking this one thing:

The Takeaway

They say hindsight is 20/20. Yet, we’re finding that IoT technologies can help both back-office leaders and front- line workers see things in real time with near perfection, especially if harnessed with other technologies that gather and deliver “intelligence” all the way to the edge of the enterprise.

That is why, here at Zebra, we have prioritized innovation that brings our Enterprise Asset Intelligence vision to life. Though a record number of enterprises are on the path to becoming “intelligent,” there is still a long way to go to achieve the outputs possible given the volume and quality of data inputs collected by people and machines every millisecond of the day. Fortunately, the investment commitments being made by businesses of all sizes indicate an appreciation for IoT’s capacity to increase enterprise intelligence to the scale needed over the next decade and beyond. With IoT at the core of edge workers’ “information and conversational systems,” it will be easier to respond to the rising economic, customer and competitive pressures materializing as the “on-demand” economy matures. That is, of course, if your enterprise also has enough “emotional intelligence.”

How Intelligent is Your Enterprise?

“Intelligence” may be a relative term, but it’s imperative to know where your company stands today if you want to capture your edge tomorrow. That is why Zebra has developed a tool that will enable you to score your current “enterprise intelligence” and help to inform your IoT strategy. Over time, as you start to implement the tools needed to “sense, analyze and act” at the edge, you can use this tool to benchmark your progress.

Take the Assessment Now

Inside Zebra Nation,
Therese Van Ryne
Therese Van Ryne

Therese Van Ryne is Senior Director of External Communications for Zebra Technologies. She joined Zebra as part of the acquisition of Motorola Solutions Enterprise business in October 2014. She and her team are laser focused on growing the company’s brand awareness globally aligned with business objectives. Her accomplishments include leading Zebra events with Harvard University and TED as well as the creation of the annual Intelligent Enterprise Index, resulting in positive media coverage, customer engagement and revenue growth.

Prior to Motorola Solutions, Van Ryne worked at SC Johnson where she led corporate communication strategies and drove PR and branding efforts for leading consumer products. One of her top achievements was leading the Windex® placement in the film, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” resulting in a 25% sales increase for the brand.

One of PR News’ 2019 Top Women in PR and Crain's Chicago's 2021 Most Notable Executives in Marketing, Therese also has experience as a journalist, editor and producer, reporting nightly from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Van Ryne holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Journalism from Marquette University and an Executive Leadership Master’s Certificate from Cornell University.