At IDC I co-founded a practice that studied the three dimensions of IoT: industry technology platforms, industry verticals and industry geographies. As an industry analyst, I had a front-row ticket to the IoT market and continually witnessed incredible innovations. Like many other experts, I kept my seatbelt buckled for what we expected to be IoT’s massive and dramatic take-off.
While there has been uptake, real-world adoption and implementation have lagged the “hype.” In time, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated at the disconnect. What was the holdup? Knowing that industry analysts are beholden to the marketing messages that each company shares, I welcomed an opportunity to make the move from an outside-in analyst to an inside-out contributor.
I wanted the chance to be involved in bringing a product to market, putting it in the customer’s hands and getting to the “other side” of the story. Now four months into my role as a product marketing manager within Cisco IoT, I’m getting the chance to do just that. Along the way, I’m exploring some important questions: Why haven’t IoT markets taken off as quickly as predicted? What are the inhibitors? Is it customer awareness? Customer readiness? Market maturity? Concerns about security or data ownership?
Here’s some of what I’ve learned so far:
- It takes two – OT and IT – to tango. IoT solutions are designed for use in the field – whether that’s a factory floor, an oil field or a sprawling power or water treatment plant. The teams who oversee these infrastructures and the supporting operational technology (OT) aren’t the same people who manage information technology (IT). While OT users are the ones who will want to purchase and use IoT solutions, IT stakeholders are the ones who can help deliver the scale and cybersecurity to make a project a success. Too often, these stakeholders haven’t received the messages that matter to them. Bridging this gap – with product capabilities that meet the needs of both audiences – represents an important opportunity for us at Cisco.
- Implementation sounds scary. Most environments have a diverse and complex set of systems and protocols. The thought of integrating IoT devices is enough to give any IT or OT professional a headache. Yet this is where Cisco really shines, as our industrial networking products integrate with many protocols and are surrounded by a suite of capabilities that enable seamless onboarding of IoT devices regardless of where a customer is or what systems that customer is running. Among these tools: Cisco Validated Designs, Cisco Kinetic Gateway Management Module and Cisco DNA Center.
- Data management is daunting, too. In IDC Directions 2020, analyst Ashish Nadkarni predicts that 70 percent of all enterprise data will be processed at the edge of the network by 2023. It’s the next big trend in IoT and it’s understandable that it may be a perceived barrier. After all, processing data at the edge – and/or moving some of it from the edge to the cloud – is a complicated proposition for anyone. Again, Cisco excels in this area with our Edge Intelligence capabilities and integrations with Microsoft Azure and other cloud providers. We have bookended the complicated data flow and made it simpler for organizations to get started in IoT – and realize the benefits of the data that these solutions generate.
- There’s an ongoing feeling of “insecurity.” Organizations are rightfully concerned about connecting IoT devices. After all, if not secured properly, these devices could provide unauthorized access to “crown jewel” SCADA systems in a utility or to PLCs on a factory floor, among others. Risks related to stolen intellectual property, worker safety and productivity cannot be ignored. Fortunately, there is a way to secure IoT solutions – at scale and with simplicity – with Cisco Cyber Vision. Cyber Vision offers security in a way that meets the needs of IT and OT.
My “insider” role is helping me better understand and lift the barriers – real and perceived – in order to better support IoT adoption and implementation. Together, let’s explore how we can overcome these barriers so that more organizations can unleash IoT’s potential. In upcoming posts, I’ll examine ways to better apply Cisco’s IoT framework in water, manufacturing and other industries. Until then, take a closer look at where this all starts – at the edge – and why bringing intelligence to the edge is worth the effort.