"Risky Business," "Mission Impossible," or "Top Gun"?
Being a technology strategist and integrator for the past 20 plus years, I’ve witnessed the promise of a high and right trending line for many emerging technologies. It often shifts out and to the right several years until a new catalyst triggers its rise (or fall).
The Internet of Things (IoT), is currently on that trend line based on several key triggers. I won’t attempt to place IoT on the proverbial hockey stick, but it is reasonably clear that it is moving and on the mind of most corporations domestically and globally. In recent customer interactions, we are seeing IoT ideas turn into pilots, pilots into deployments, deployments to programs, products and, often products to new businesses.
Some triggers, like other trends, are expected: lower wireless network costs, smaller form factors and common standards such as LTE-M. Some triggers are specific to the business and technology solution: customer acceptance, extended battery life, and network capacity. But in IoT, there are three key triggers that are much more subtle and dependent on the IoT ecosystem.
1) Omni-data benefit—IoT data has material benefit to at least three (and often more) parties. Manufacturers, retailers, service providers, and the customer can all benefit from the same source of data. For example, the manufacturer can improve production quality, the retailer better marketing, the service provider lower cost, and customer better information about the state and use of the product.
So be bimodal and walk slow and run fast, but don’t be another succession of sequels that never get it quite right
>>Companies are monetizing and sharing this data
2) Ecosystem interdependence—In IoT, no one provider has 100 percent of the technology required to effectively delivery a solution or program. It will likely take two or three providers to deliver a complete result for the business objective. This is clearly evident with the rise of Cloud services.
>>Partnerships are forming and evolving
3) Benefit Paradox—The benefits are near-term and long-term. The real and immediate benefits of productivity and customer connection provide a business case, but the machine learning is likely to provide greater benefit in the long-term.
>>Companies can now realize immediate returns with a path to a long-term program
If you look at all of the potential benefits and business drivers of IoT, they would generally center around four desired outcomes:
1) Improving productivity/efficiency— such as improving high value points in production, gaining visibility in the field or with end-customer, service agility and optimization and/or reduced maintenance.
2) Creating new and innovative ways to engage the customer— such as increased customer interactions, improved customer satisfaction, visibility between all parties, and continuous feedback.
3) Developing completely new products that offer new ways to monetize data, such as new service models for existing products or new product enhancements.
4) Enabling entirely new businesses—using data in unique ways that disrupt existing business and customer distribution models which aresometimes led by large incumbents.
So the question is: how do companies channel the benefits to the right priorities leveraging their value chain partners in their market/ industry with the right ecosystem partners and technologies that emphasize the benefits now and the promise of the future?
The answer is a plan to walk slow and run fast simultaneously. While this thought is not unique to the advent of IoT, it is particularly pronounced for three reasons: 1) solutions are interdependent with the product development life cycle of the product, 2) there are dozens of decision with dozens of alternatives and 3) it comes after a period of slower economic growth in which companies have changed the complexion of their own innovation development and IT profiles by relying more on outside parties.
We believe it is imperative that companies develop a strategic IoT business and technology plan for the following reasons:
• “If you are not getting better you are getting worse.”—At this point someone in the value chain in your industry is advancing dramatically. You can choose to be an innovator or a fast-follower, but you cannot be effective watching from the bleachers.
• “This is Huge”—IoT is not as controllable as other technology solutions. It is connected, it is disconnected, it is close, it is remote, but most importantly it is measured in a factor of 10-100- 1,000 times the number of end points of any other technology. If you do not have an effective operating model, managing millions of “things” is NOT possible.
• “Carpe diem”—the table is getting set, the pivot/triggers are already being realized or coming in the next 18 months.
• “It is grass roots for you if you don’t.”—Someone in your business is going to undertake IoT programs and if you as the CIO are not leading, you are following.
• Security challenges are unique—The nature of the devices, at the end are newer, small, sometimes stateless, and are maturing. But they are not as mature as other computing devices like laptops and cell phones and need special care.
• The pace of play increases—Device size and cost are going to continue to improve and therefore increase both the rate and quantity of devices implemented.
• Acceptable vs. unacceptable obsolescence—Companies would be wise to gain experience with low cost pilot programs while at the same time understanding the market shifts to avoid major obsolescence pitfalls. Partners will have increased access and early views into the latest proven technologies.
To play this out using a movie analogy:
• IF you do not have a well-planned IoT business and technology strategy it seems to be risky business
• THIS should be your mission should you choose to accept it
• WITH a comprehensive IoT business and technology strategy, you too can be the “best of the best” in your industry
So be bimodal and walk slow and run fast, but don’t be another succession of sequels that never get it quite right!