Artificial intelligence is improving rapidly thanks to the growing use of deep neural networks to teach computers how to interpret the real world. These networks use vast amounts of detailed data to enable machines to learn, further increasing demand for reliable, high-bandwidth connectivity. For example, the development of safe autonomous cars depends on millions of vehicles capturing enormous amounts of information about how human drivers handle cars when confronted with specific road layouts, weather conditions, traffic and accidents. The best artificial intelligence systems will be built using the best datasets sourced using 100% reliable connectivity provided by telcos.
The enduring value of connected assets
In the digital economy, the old adage knowledge is power applies as much as ever. The ongoing advances in computing science mean that knowledge (in the form of insights gleaned from large volumes of detailed data) can increasingly be used to perform predictive analytics, enabling new services and cutting costs. At the same time, the widespread deployment of connected devices, appliances, machines and vehicles (the Internet of Things) now means enterprises can get their hands on granular real-time data, giving them a comprehensive and detailed picture of what is happening now and what is likely to happen next.
A handful of companies already have a very detailed picture of their markets thanks to far-sighted decisions to add connectivity to the products they sell. Komatsu, for example, uses its Komtrax system to track the activities of almost 430,000 bulldozers, dump-trucks and forklifts belonging to its customers. The Japan-based company has integrated monitoring technologies and connectivity into its construction and mining equipment since the late 1990s. Komatsu says the Komtrax system is standard equipment on “most Komatsu Tier-3 Construction machines” and on most small utility machines and backhoes.
Komatsu’s machines ship with GPS chips that can pinpoint their position, together with a unit that gathers engine data. They can then transmit the resulting data to a communication satellite, which relays that information to the Komtrax data centre.
The data captured by Komtrax (and other Internet of Things solutions) has value on multiple different levels:
- It provides Komatsu with market intelligence
- It enables Komatsu to offer value added services for customers
- It gives detailed data on the global economy that can be used for computer modelling and to support the development of artificial intelligence
Market intelligence for Komatsu
For Komatsu, Komtrax provides valuable information about how its customers use its equipment, which can then be used to refine its R&D activities. Usage data can also help sales teams figure out which customers may need to upgrade or replace their equipment and when.
Komatsu’s sales and finance departments use the findings, for example, to offer trade-ins and sales of lighter machines where heavy ones are underused. Its leasing firm can also use the information to help find customers for its rental fleet.
Furthermore, Komatsu is linking market information directly with its production plants through Komtrax (see below). It says its factories “aggressively monitor and analyse the conditions of machine operation and abrasion of components” to enable Komatsu and its distributors to improve operations by better predicting the lifetime of parts and the best time for overhauls.
How Komatsu uses data captured by its customers’ equipment
Source: Komatsu slide adapted by STL Partners