The Digital Age—an information age that makes the Industrial Revolution look tame by comparison—is upon us. In this Digital Age, organizations are leveraging intelligent products and solutions (IPS) to realize efficiencies, customization, and improved user experience like never before.

And, just as in previous transformations of industry and business, existing processes are being disrupted, innovation is accelerating, and entire industries are being reshaped.  

In this new era, the integration of information technology and operating technologies is driving powerful synergies—between the physical world of smart machines, industrial operations, and facilities/spaces, and the digital world of internet of things platforms, applications, and insights.

This creates the opportunity to help businesses generate greater efficiency, enhance safety, improve customer experience, and developing new business models and revenue streams.

Building end-to-end systems and capabilities is critical to leading in this era—helping to understand and predict equipment performance, get visibility into operations, monitor facilities/spaces and make critical business decisions based on real-time, contextual data.

The World Economic Forum implications of this nascent Digital Age along four key dimensions—customer expectation, product enhancement, collaborative innovation, and organizational forms. To succeed, organizations must have a strategy that addresses all of these dimensions, and clear leaders are emerging.

Cognizant’s IPS practice is helping businesses navigate this epochal shift. We examine organizations’ challenges and develop strategies, applying design thinking and leveraging our deep domain expertise and analytics to contextualize, imagine, and create smart, connected products and solutions that can help them drive future growth.

Cognizant will be demonstrating our capabilities—and real-world examples of Intelligent Products and Solutions— in the Smart Manufacturing section at Liveworx 2017. Before you plan your visit (Hint: We’re in Booth 431!), here are some highlights of our work across industry.

Manufacturing: 3D Process Meets Multidimensional Solution

Combining two disruptive and previously unrelated technologies can transform manufacturing and supply chain as we know it. How? Consider the 3D-printing industry, which depends on the transmission of deeply detailed digital information to highly complex machinery for production of times on a just-in-time basis.

Cognizant is building a digital platform that relies on Blockchain technology to securely manage the ordering, design, production, payment and delivery of 3D-printed objects. As designed, our solution creates efficiencies in controlling, monitoring, and inspecting processes and products, allowing users to optimize the use of underutilized production assets. In turn, it meets the growing requirements of flexibility and speed in 3-D printing.

The model? Manufacturing-of-the-Future. Enterprises will be able to produce 3D objects—either prototypes, test models, or finished parts and products—on demand, relying on automated, secured transactions, and using 3D printers to realize complex design. We envision an active, responsive marketplace for consumers, 3D-product designers and 3D-printer owners and operators.

Retail: Now, That’s a Wrap. (Cash-Wrap, That Is.)

The rise of e-commerce is transforming the retail world in mature markets. It already is promising to slash the number of brick-and-mortar retail operations and force retailers to a smaller footprint. Historically under-invested in IT solutions, retailers often also still use fragmented IT systems and incomplete technology solutions at different points in their organizations, from inventory tracking to billing to cash-wrap.

Retail is not going away, and we are only at the beginning of this seismic shift. But to survive and thrive in this evolving world of digital v. physical “stores,” retail store operators must deliver a compelling, differentiated customer experience when customers visit their physical stores. That means personalization—leveraging digital information.

Cognizant RetailMateTM addresses these challenges. RetailMate combines the capture of data from multiple sources, including customer behavior and shopping history, their location and actions, along with analytics to deliver insights into stores in real time.

This in turn allows retailers to connect with customers in both digital and physical space, driving real-time experiences and deeper engagement. And, because RetailMate is a wraparound data solution, it also can be used to optimize store operations, assign and track associates’ activities, track inventory, and prevent inventory losses.

Drive On, Revolution! Making Autonomous Vehicles Safer

What will be key to the acceptance and success of autonomous vehicles? Along with advanced technology and the collaboration of many providers in the automotive ecosystem, it will require public trust. And Cognizant is enabling progress in all these areas—from applying virtual modelling to validate designs to incorporating complex sensor-based systems to real vehicle testing.

Only phased development will result in the mature algorithms necessary to move from a simple, predictable driving environment to one that's complex, dynamic, even dangerous. Creating this digital world of autonomous vehicles will involve solutions for 3D perception, artificial intelligence and deep machine learning, neural networks, and more.

Smart Moves for Hands On Work: Digital Field Services

Cognizant is also actively working with organizations to design next-generation digital field services—leveraging technology to achieve new levels of efficiency, enrich workforce training, lower operational costs, and deliver a better customer experience for maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO).

For example, digital field services includes having digital content replace physical manuals, using mixed-reality capabilities to improve technicians’ skill levels and on-the-job performance, automating routing software to enable dynamic scheduling with smart-equipped vehicles, and implementing augmented reality (AR) modules for immersive training and repair. Morever, 3D printing can allow parts to be created on demand, while digital representations of machines capture performance data for predictive maintenance and product-as-service models.

Hands Off in Healthcare, Food Service: Changing Behaviors

Dining out? Almost nine in ten food-borne illness outbreaks come from worker contamination. Heading to hospital? You’ve a one-in-twenty chance of contracting a healthcare-associated infection when admitted. That leads to 600,000 deaths each year around the world.

Solution? Clean those hands. And, based on World Health Organization guidelines, Cognizant’s hand-hygiene solution enables compliance in critical industries like healthcare, hospitality, and education. A wearable device captures the motion of the hand-washing and sanitizing, and in turn synchronizes that data with a designated mobile device using Bluetooth.

Don’t wash and you’re being watched. Using smart data on behavior patterns, the frequency and length of hand-washing by any user is automatically compared to control datasets; compliance or non-compliance notifications can then be sent to each employee. Compliance reports can be monitored and tracked by management. Data use prompts positive behavioral change.