It was about a year ago that MANN+HUMMEL started its journey into the Internet of Things (IoT). Our objective is to offer smart connected filters and new digital services to our customers. I was asked to speak about that journey at the Industry of Things World 2016 in Germany, a conference that focuses on the 4th industrial revolution.

The conference took place September 19th and 20th 2016 at the Congress Center in Berlin. There were approximately 800 visitors and more than 80 presentations. The energy at the conference was really good. The “Internet of Things” is important for many companies; you can find a lot of people really engaged and curious to see how others are addressing the issue and to learn from them. There is a genuine willingness to collaborate across industries.

My presentation focused on how we have established IoT within our global network. We foster collaboration beyond regional borders and every one of our IoT projects includes colleagues from different regions. We work everyday in a global setup which enables us to rapidly deliver projects and support customers wherever they are.

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The agile methodology is a rather non-conventional approach to jump start IoT projects and to create minimum viable products (MVP). These agile methods are very unique; they challenge the status quo and convert project timeline from years into months or weeks. For example, in one of our projects we are validating a Proof of Concept with a customer only few months from the project start. The reaction from Business Partners has been excellent and in fact, we have gathered quite a large number of projects already. Things are moving fast… In January 2017, we plan to launch our first commercial IoT application.

After my presentation I had quite a few people come to me because they were very appreciative of MANN+HUMMEL’s practical and fast-paced approach. I really enjoyed exchanging ideas with the participants, hearing about their challenges, and seeing their drive to make things happen. It is really exciting to see how passionate and energized everyone is to reshape their way of working and their company portfolio. Interestingly, during the conference one of our large customers approached me with a question. We discussed the topic and decided to investigate a common project to find a solution to his problem.

The three general issues discussed at the conference were security, cooperation, and ownership of data.

Can you imagine that these many companies working on different unrelated products can now share similar stream of data? This information can feed each other and help everyone working around the eco-system benefit from it. Cross-industry collaboration and cooperation is therefore very important. This sounds very unnatural at first, because normally we are very careful with the confidentiality of our projects and rush to get our IP strategy in order ASAP. This IoT transformation is going to require much more collaboration than we are used to.

The data, by the way, is really the interesting part of IoT. In order to accelerate value for the customers and digital services, people need to have access to data. Many large firms are reluctant to give access to the data they generate. However, we are starting to see changes. There is a multitude of companies, large and small, able to convert that data into valuable products or services. Through cooperation we can create better solutions and speed up the rate of innovation.

During the “World Café” we were setup in small groups, kind of like a workshop, where everybody discusses a specific topic or question. This format is prone for good discussions and the participants often present good examples. This makes the workshop quite valuable and interesting. For example, one of them was about the implementation of new business models. Everyone came from different backgrounds, some from the OEM side, some from the suppliers, etc. I find the cross industry examples always very interesting and I took a few ideas with me to try.

MANN+HUMMEL is taking the IoT topic seriously. We will work hard to position ourselves as one of the key players in this field. Just in a few months, our IoT initiative is creating a strong momentum within our company. A lot of our colleagues are interested in this new technology because they can see its impact on their private lives and understand the importance to MANN+HUMMEL. We strongly promote the exchange of ideas and information throughout the company. For example, we created an IoT WhatsApp group. It is open to any MANN+HUMMEL employee who wants to join. So people from all over the world and from every function can obtain info and contribute to the ongoing discussion on IoT and Industry 4.0.

This also creates a very positive energy and enables people who may not have the chance of being involved in the details of a project, to see what’s going on at MANN+HUMMEL regarding the Internet of Things.

Internet of Things is changing the world at an incredible pace and everyone should have their plans ready… we have ours!