Over the past few years, proactive maintenance has become a real buzz word in industry. It is well on the way of becoming a real ‘killer application’ for advanced analytics and the Internet of Things.

And for a reason: the value promise related to the transition from hour-based to need-based and from reactive to proactive maintenance is too great to be ignored. Or what do you think, all you home and car owners?

But proactive maintenance may not necessarily be the easiest and quickest way of generating business value. Based on my own experience, I dare say that the implementation of new maintenance concepts – in other words really incorporating analytics in the actual servicing and maintenance processes – often takes quite a lot of effort.

This is why we should keep in mind that industrial operations involve other areas of activity where advanced business analytics have a lot to offer and even play a key role. What I am saying is that any corporate or organisational function would benefit from making use of analytics in its development efforts.

For example, customer analytics is by no means the excusive domain of a consumer-focused firm, it is equally important to industrial enterprises.

After all, the idea is to maximize value as experienced by the customer and thereby the value of the customer relationship to the company.

In real terms, it means optimizing all the customer-related measures over the entire life cycle of the relationship. As an industrial company may have several thousand customers, analytics can make a real difference quite easily.

Another area that may not necessarily come to mind readily is sales analytics. The sales of industrial firms can be supported through analytic methods, for example by predicting demand, optimizing the product range and pricing and, of course, by targeting the sales efforts smartly. Sales offers a highly suitable testing ground for analytics in that its impact can be seen and measured within a short period of time.

These are just a few examples of the areas in which I have worked with industrial companies over the years to develop concrete solutions. Of course, the options are not exhausted by the foregoing examples. Similar uses are found in production, product development and even finances, not to forget maintenance, either!

At the risk of stating the obvious, I wish to point out in conclusion that it does not make sense for industrial companies, or any company for that matter, to drag their feet in taking the first steps with analytics. Your competitors may have done so already. And, as always with travelling, the sooner you set out the sooner you reach your destination, or if you don’t quite make it, at least you will find yourself in some new and rewarding place.