If Data is the new oil, IoT devices are the new oil rigs

By Vancheeswar Balakrishnan, February 4, 2020

Hello everyone! Let me introduce myself and the blog—I am Vancheeswar Balakrishnan (Vanchy). I am passionate about technology and the transformation it brings about. Staying on the same key, I specialize in digital transformation and change management with a focus on the logistics and supply chain domain. I will be writing about my experiences with digital transformation—about the joys of the realization from the transformation, challenges in implementation and technology drivers, to name a few.

In this post, I will write about digital transformation foundations—the strategies that enterprises should adopt is a topic that has been written and discussed at length. Hence, I will focus on the building blocks. Enterprises have realized the need to transition and transform into digital enterprises. But what do they require to achieve that transformation?


Digital transformation begins with data. With data, obviously comes the next step—analytics and comprehension of that data. What follows is the sharing of outcomes to empower the stakeholders to action.

Data is the new oil’ they say. If I had a penny for every time it has been said, I would be a billionaire twice over. But it got me thinking…if data is the new oil, then how are we approaching the extraction and refining of that? As with oil, which does not itself gush out of the ground and into the tanks of our automobiles, data needs to be captured, understood, analyzed and acted upon—actions being the ‘energy’ that enterprises seek and consume.

Data—the key differentiator

Like oil, data does not generate by itself. In the digital landscape of today and beyond, our biggest sources of operational data are going to be what devices are creating in our enterprises. Data has become the key differentiator and thus, a competitive tool for enterprises trying to claw their way up for their share of customers and revenue. The sheer spread and need for data are far beyond the ability of humans to deliver. In addition, to look at devices as mere data collection tools is simplistic and reductive. Devices are clever (smart seems jaded) and they are independent decision-making instruments as well, minimizing human biases and errors in the process.

Translating this into the logistics and supplychain domain, the span of geography, varied actors and variety of materials and assets make it a challenge for manual data collection and aggregation. Going back, why digital transformation? Digital transformation enables businesses to differentiate themselves from competition. This differentiation could be the customer experience, cost-effective service assurance (efficient processes) and newer products and service lines enabled by technology, to name just a few.

Demand Supply Matching using IoT

As a differentiator, the ability to understand demand quickly and deliver it in the most optimal manner with service assurance is paramount. Speed and accuracy are the essence here. To list a few instances of understanding demand using IoT would be of any kind, from stock out monitoring, early warning and inventory quality monitoring, for example, in fuel stations, remote inventory locations, perishables and pharmaceuticals, to just name a few. In-Vehicle Monitoring Systems (IVMS) are a sure-shot, easy way to locate and identify assets for fulfillment: proximity to supply locations, suitability for supply, inventory quality monitoring and geo-fencing can, not only help in real-time visibility, but also control over entire operations. A fully automated IVMS solution can generate enormous quantity of data that will need analysis. Drilling down into such data will help an enterprise to configure the why-s and how-s of efficiency or the lack of it and improve efficiency in asset management.

Data science and the actionable intelligence that comes along with it can bring true transformation to businesses, only if we know how to make IoT devices the new oil rigs.

Vancheeswar Balakrishnan

Vancheeswar Balakrishnan (aka Vanchy) is a Chartered Accountant and Project Management Professional (PMP) with 23+ years of experience in Digital Transformation, Change Management, Product Development & Design, and Consulting. He aspires to create solutions that rival Google in its ability to disrupt technology and the way it is viewed. When he is not dreaming he is the Digital Transformation Lead for the Digital Supply Chain Management Practice . He is driven to building IoT and analytics driven applications in Logistics and Supply Chain and enabling enterprises to leverage technology to improve. He also bores everyone with his attempts at deductive reasoning and no prizes for guessing if you do say Sherlock Holmes is his idol.

From the man himself: "I’m partial to sporting and musical metaphors—considering that on a personal level these are my two passions. To add to that, I’m a qualified football coach working with grassroots community football and I’m driven by using football as a vehicle of social ascent, especially for the underprivileged children. I flatter myself on my guitar playing, composing and singing skills (Disclaimer: People who have had heard me do all these may beg to differ and in some cases, vehemently)."