The time is ripe for an IoT explosion. The number of connected “things” in the world has skyrocketed from about a million in the early 1990s to 13 billion today. As the Internet of Everything (IoE) gains momentum—digitizing business processes in every industry—we expect to see 50 billion connected devices by 2020. The technology connecting all these devices has become affordable and easy to integrate. But that is not the primary reason for this explosion in connected devices. I believe we are entering a “golden age” of digitization because of the confluence of the following factors:
Business Relevance: Lines of business (LOBs) are emerging as a key buying center for technology. The executives running plants, oil fields, or logistics systems have realized that technology solutions can deliver business outcomes critical to their business success —beginning with improved productivity, increased uptime, and reduced costs. It used to be that LOBs would work only with specialized integrators for specific, customized solutions. Today, business leaders want to change the way they consume technology. They are looking for technology providers who, together with a comprehensive ecosystem of partners, can pull together business-relevant solutions based on open standards and architectures. To meet these needs, technology companies such as Cisco are changing how we operate and how we go to market. Cisco has invested heavily in developing vertical solutions based on horizontal capabilities. We have built deep services practices and vertical go-to-market capabilities, and have invested in a comprehensive ecosystem of partners with whom we deliver not just great technology, but solid business outcomes.
IoT adoption is being driven by the move to open standards and IT/OT convergence, helping to power better business outcomes across industries.
This week, I spent a few days at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando. As usual, it was a great event that provided valuable insights into the state of the industry and our clients’ mindsets. Between a number of great sessions led by Gartner analysts, the dialogue created by the 10,000+ attendees at our Cisco sessions, and myriad client interactions during the event and over dinners, I gained a palpable sense that there are many areas of common consensus and excitement around digitization.
I left the event with three key takeaways from the week:
Digital is it – but the focus is shifting from technology to journey. Last year, “digital” was the buzz, but it was mostly a technology conversation about the SMAC stack (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) and technological approaches to becoming a digital company. This year, I noticed a distinct shift in the discussion: The business journey, and not specific technologies, dominated the conversation. What steps should I take first? Which business processes should I digitize first to achieve some early wins and financial returns? The dialogue is now all about the business, and less about the technology.
Customers need help to determine their journeys – and they expect case studies. Numerous customers told me that the best way we could help them is by assisting them in developing their digital roadmaps. Everyone now understands the need to digitize fully, but they need help articulating the steps they should take on this journey. What sequence of steps should we take to digitize our company fully? Which processes do I tackle first, and why? Should I always start with the end-to-end customer experience? When we work with clients, we can help them map out the tailored journey that makes the most sense for their specific company in their particular industry. This point is critical: Becoming digital requires the right linkage between business and IT strategies, and an appropriate digital strategy will vary for each customer depending on the company’s current state, desired future state, positioning, and value drivers. Additionally, customers expect vendors to provide case studies detailing their own transformations and their record of successfully enabling and guiding customer transformations in the past. Our own John Manville led a session titled “Your Digital Transformation: A Best Practice and Next Steps Guide” that was a huge hit, because he shared Cisco’s record with digitization, including all of our use cases, the hard lessons we learned along the way, and the best practices we’ve developed inside Cisco. Our recent release of “Digital Transformation – 100 Customer Stories” has garnered interest from clients and partners from all over the world, as they seek to understand what’s possible and how they can get started on their own transformations.
It’s about the insights and actions – not the dumb data! We’ve been saying for two years now that the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution isn’t about the “things” themselves – it’s about how you harness the data you get from the IoT to make better decisions and take informed actions. Gartner pushed this thinking even further this week when Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Research at Gartner, said: “In five years, 1 million new devices will come online every hour. These interconnections are creating billions of new relationships. These relationships are not driven solely by data, but algorithms… Data is inherently dumb. It doesn’t actually do anything unless you know how to use it, how to act with it.” Absolutely! Algorithms are critical sources of intellectual property and key drivers of business rules and value – they represent the opportunity for customers to rethink their digital business models for the next era.
If you were at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, what were your key takeaways?
We all know that data is exploding and in more places than ever before. Without the right strategy in place, it can be a real monster. When tamed, data holds the key to great insights about an organization’s business that could help grow sales, improve the customer experience and save a lot of money.
Unfortunately, in real life we don’t have an ‘Analytics Man’ superhero that can turn data into insight magically with the snap of a finger. However; with the right IT strategy in place, data can save the day!
In that spirit, here are five ways to help tame your data:
I am thrilled to be the first to announce our 15 semi-finalists in Cisco’s second annual Innovation Grand Challenge. Culled from more than 3,000 entries in over 100 countries since June, I can sum up the semi-finalists’ innovations in one word: Disruptors.
I want to congratulate all the semi-finalists for making it this far. It gives me tremendous pleasure to identify them below. I wish all of these bold pioneers much success in the weeks ahead as we begin the countdown to the three winners in early December at the IoT World Forum in Dubai.
Will One Be the Next Uber?
Will one of the semi-finalists emerge as the next Uber, Airbnb or Pandora that disrupts and transforms whole markets with unforeseen business models? By looking over these entries, which leverage the possibilities of the Internet of Things (IoT), I can easily imagine this distinct possibility.
These IoT trailblazers also validate my view that today’s daring new developments can come from anywhere in the world. These 15 are dispersed throughout North and South America as well as Europe, including Argentina, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Another observation is the power and potential of converging technologies around IoT have captured the attention and imagination of the entrepreneurial community worldwide, reflecting the growing trend of globalization and diversity of technical talent.