The Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the most talked-about technology trends over the past few years. Yet many customers remain confused. Line-of-business managers don’t really care that much about the technology behind billions of connections. They care about business outcomes. They aren’t interested in hyped-up predictions of future value—they’re interested in quality, performance and how technology can help their bottom line.
After several years of meeting with customers across all industries all over the world, I realized that while thousands of them have already started implementing IoT to improve their operations and transform their businesses, there were still so many who were trying to figure out how to translate all the promise and buzz around IoT into actionable plans in their organizations.
That’s why I wrote Building the Internet of Things, which is being released this week. I wanted to share some practical insights about how organizations large and small can get started on their IoT journeys.
The book is rooted in my own journey in the technology industry over the past 30 years. The energy and momentum that are building today around IoT are reminiscent of the early days of the Internet, when we were just beginning to realize its potential impact on business and society. We felt like we were changing the world.
My first experience with IoT (we didn’t use this term then) was some 15 years ago when Cisco got involved in Industrial Ethernet to bring Ethernet and IP capabilities into industrial settings. It was a difficult business. There was little contact or communication between IT and the operational technology (OT) folks who actually ran the factories and made purchasing decisions. Equally challenging were the product requirements, from ruggedizing to protocols to certifications. Was this effort worth it?
The answer really didn’t become clear until later, when we started the Connected Industries Group—Cisco’s IoT-related business unit focused on the key industrial and transportation markets. Suddenly, it felt like the beginning of the commercial Internet 20 years earlier. We could see the profound impact of connecting everything to everything. It was no longer just laptops and smartphones being connected—machines were connecting to give us useful data about all sorts of things, from oil rig operations to heart monitors. It was an exhilarating experience to realize that for the second time in my life I was part of something completely new that would revolutionize entire industries. We were on the next phase of the Internet journey.
Since then we’ve seen a remarkable transformation in many industries, and Cisco customers are reaping the benefits of IoT as a foundation of their digital businesses:
- PepsiCo has leveraged IoT to improve the reliability of its manufacturing systems, reduce both downtime and support costs, and enhance technical support through remote monitoring
- Harley-Davidson connected its operations and reduced its build-to-order cycle from 18 months to two weeks, accelerated decision-making by 80 percent, and increased profitability by three to four percent
- Ford Motor Company has implemented IoT technology in 25 of its plants, improving communication, automating its scheduling system, and managing production in real time
These examples just scratch the surface of what IoT is doing today. And we still have so much work ahead of us to fully realize the promise of IoT.
As I’ve moved on to a different role, driving Strategic Innovations I now focus my work with the IoT community on the innovation side of IoT. However, making IoT real continues to be my passion and my mission.
So that’s why I wrote the book. IoT is more than hype, and it’s more than cool technology. It’s real today, and it will change the world. I want to help accelerate that process by providing a practical, how-to guide to help companies get started.