I began this series on building the Internet of Things (IoT) about four months ago with a promise to unpack the hype and dig deep into the real factors you’ll need to consider on your road to IoT success. Along the way, I’ve shared insights I’ve gained over the past decade or so from working with the countless people who actually have been building IoT in their organizations—the people I call Generation IoT.
They are customers, partners, vendors, integrators, startups—innovators and change agents of every kind—who realize the disruptive and transformative power of IoT. They also know that no one company can do it alone. They are seeking out new ecosystems of partners, combining their skills, talents, and resources for anything from a one-off project to ongoing strategic partnerships. They are building new business models, new value propositions, revitalizing and redefining old industries, and creating completely new business categories.
Today, the “state of the IoT union” is a mixed bag. Even though we’ve come a long way on our collective IoT journey, for most of us, we’ve just begun. Here’s a snapshot:
- IoT is gaining traction across many market segments. Most of the initial IoT deployments are focused on efficiency, productivity, and improving existing processes.
- Security has emerged as a top concern for customers—and one of the top opportunities for vendors. Last fall’s IoT DDoS attacks served as a wake-up call for the industry, demanding more investment and a complete shift in mindset. Security is everybody’s job: vendors, businesses, users and employees.
- Standards are more important than ever, and the industry is working overtime to keep up with fast-evolving IoT technologies in horizontal standards bodies (evolving existing standards to meet IoT requirements), vertical standard bodies (moving traditional technologies to open standards) and consortia (driving frameworks, priorities and interoperability). The newly released OpenFog Reference Architecture is just one example.
- The IoT integration channel has matured (at least in some geographies), enabling even small and medium enterprises to begin their IoT journeys.
- Service providers have matured their IoT strategies and are becoming more relevant in the IoT ecosystem.
- IT/OT integration is progressing in many organizations, but they are still in the minority.
- Many companies—especially in certain industries and geographies—are still bogged down in 20th century business structures, moving unevenly to the open systems and collaborative partnerships required for effective IoT adoption.
So where do we go from here?
I believe that a decade from now, we won’t even be talking about IoT—because IoT will be an implicit part of everything we do. It will become the foundation of digital transformation. New value propositions, such as mass-customization, will be routine. In 10 years, IoT will have transformed company cultures; business models; jobs and work roles; organizational structures; and relationships with customers, vendors, suppliers, and partners—redefining entire industries in the process.
Just look at the auto industry, which is rapidly merging with the technology industry. Cars are essentially becoming datacenters and smartphones on wheels, and manufacturers are installing standards-based high speed deterministic networks to connect subsystems within vehicles. Banking, finance, and technology industries converged decades ago. Now manufacturing, transportation, retail, healthcare, oil & gas, agriculture and even mining are doing the same. Every industry is becoming a technology industry and IoT is behind all of this.
In short, IoT is bringing about a new economy—a co-economy that is completely digitized and connected. In this new economy,
- People and organizations collaborate in different and deeper ways
- All devices are connected and generating data
- Data collected from devices is analyzed on the spot to produce real-time insights and better, faster decision-making
- Openness rules
- Proprietary is temporary; standards are the default
In this new economy, traditional roles will evolve from buyers and sellers to co-creators; from competitors to collaborators, from technology providers to business value creators, from resellers to solution integrators. We’ll all be part of multiple ecosystems, because we’ll all play multiple roles among multiple partners.
Does it sound a little overwhelming?
Don’t worry. You can keep your bearings by holding to a few basic principles: Begin your IoT journey with one of the four well-proven fast-paths to IoT payback, learn from the mistakes of your peers who have done it before you, and internalize and integrate my IoT recipe for success.
I firmly believe that for many of us, IoT represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine our industries, organizations, and jobs. Are you ready to begin? Good. Welcome to Generation IoT.
This is the conclusion of a 17-part series based on Maciej Kranz’s book, Building the Internet of Things,” a practical guide on how to implement and capture the value of IoT.