Having data is great but you have be able to turn it into useful information to do something valuable with it.

This is the challenge faced by companies around the world, as the proliferation of IoT gives these companies so many more sources of data than they are used to.

The key is understanding why the collection of greater amounts of data is important and beneficial, and how this data can be used to drive a business towards improving its processes and achieving its objectives.

This is where Enterprise Asset Intelligence (EAI) comes in.

First coined by Zebra Technologies, EAI is about making sense of data from highly varied sources in an IoT environment and converting it into opportunities to optimise operations.

“The simplest way to explain EAI is using or taking IoT and making it into a business tool,” Zebra Technologies regional sales director and general manager for Australia and New Zealand David Arkles told IoT Hub.

“You take the building blocks of IoT data collection – real-time asset visibility, environmental resilience, cloud connectivity, and consolidation – and you then need to be able to analyse the data to get real-time, valuable pieces of intelligence which help you run your business better.”

The advantages of EAI can be clearly seen in multiple industries, said Arkles.

By giving existing ‘dumb’ assets a digital voice through the implementation of an IoT framework, an organisation could obtain a highly detailed, accurate, and current view of their operations.

From there, EAI allowed that organisation to translate that view to drive business activity and improvement.

Arkles used an example from the agriculture industry to describe what is possible.

“For quite some time, cattle have been tagged to allow farmers to locate them. Now it has gone beyond that. We have numerous locations where the sensors the cattle are wearing are measuring how well they sleep and eat.

“[Zebra] provide sensors - similar to health trackers for humans - that monitor the cows’ eating and sleeping habits, and identify any abnormalities.

“The analytics that are run against the collected data identify a particular cow that might be behaving abnormally, and then automatically send an alert for someone to take action. Treat an impending health issue before it spreads, for example.”

In this case, cattle have been turned into “digital assets”. This gives cattle station owners much more insight into cattle health, and they can therefore make more timely and informed decisions, Arkles said.

“We see organisations across the retail, transport, logistics, manufacturing, healthcare , sports industries all taking advantage of our technology to drive better safety, productivity, customer insight and customer service outcomes."

Arkles sees the combination of IoT and EAI as a way to gain competitive advantage from the technology.

“I don’t think it’s a case of companies deciding if they should invest in IoT or EAI, but rather when,” he said

“By using smart technology and having creativity around how to use that technology, you can completely re-engineer the way your business – or the whole industry – operates.”