In March 2017, Bosch hosted its annual internet-of-things (IoT) conference, Bosch Connected World (BCW), in Berlin. Since last year, the event has doubled in size, attracting 2,500 attendees from businesses and vendors. This jump reflects the growing interest in IoT. The number of attendees, however, also highlights the relative immaturity of IoT compared with bigger technology themes. Despite being smaller than events such as GE’s Minds + Machines or Mobile World Congress, BCW has established itself as a premier IoT event, as it has a very distinct “IoT practitioner” feel to it. We took away some key observations for IoT practitioners from the event:
To succeed in IoT, you must build and participate in open ecosystems. No vendor or end user can plan, build, and run end-to-end IoT operations that address the entire customer life cycle. This message comes through loud and clear at all the IoT events that we attend, be it IBM’s Genius of Things or GE’s Minds + Machines, and it was repeated by all the BCW speakers. The notion of coopetition was tangible, with Bosch emphasizing its partnerships with IBM, Software AG, Amazon, GE, SAP, and many more. Also noticeable was that all ecosystem participants are grappling with what it means for the shape of their business and their relationship with the customer.
Recently, the largest annual get together of the mobile industry, Mobile World Congress (MWC) took place in Barcelona. In my opinion, the biggest themes at MWC in 2017 that are relevant for enterprise customers were the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), platforms, collaboration, and connectivity. These themes underline how mobility is becoming part of the broader digital transformation initiative. I discuss this shift in this separate blog and report. MWC provided several valuable insights for business and technology leaders to align their mobile to their digital strategies:
-> Not everything that claims to be AI is true AI. Many vendors that claimed during MWC to be AI-proficient are in fact able to deliver true machine-learning solutions to generate transformative customer and operational insights. Most solutions that were branded as AI at MWC rely on preprogrammed responses and statistics rather than machine learning.
IBM hosted an artificial intelligent (AI) event at its Munich Watson IoT HQ, where it underlined its claim as a leading global AI and internet-of-things (IoT) platform providers in the enterprise context. AI and the IoT are both very important topics for enterprise users. However, there remains some uncertainty among enterprises regarding the exact benefits that both AI and IoT can generate and how businesses should prepare for the deployment of AI and IoT in their organizations.
One year into the launch of its Munich-based Watson IoT headquarters, IBM invited about one thousand customers to share an update of its AI and IoT activities to date. The IBM “Genius of Things” Summit presented interesting insights for both AI and IoT deployments. It underlined that IBM is clearly one of the leading global AI and IoT platform providers in the enterprise context. Some of the most important insights for me were that:
AI solutions require a partner ecosystem. IBM is well aware of the fact that it cannot provide IoT services on its own. For this reason, IBM is tapping into its existing partner ecosystem. Those partners are not only other vendors. IBM’s ecosystem partnership approach embraces also customers such as Schäffler, Airbus, Vaillant, or Tesco. The event demonstrated how far IBM has matured in living and breathing customer partnerships in the IoT solutions space. For instance, IBM’s cooperation with Visa regarding secure payment experiences for any device connected to the IoT is an example of a new quality of ecosystem partnership.
“IoT is not a feasible concept without a solution that allows for the direct interaction between machines and devices. Blockchain is a technology that can help to unlock this piece of the puzzle.”
Matthew Spoke, CEO, Nuco
Blockchain technology and the IoT both are currently catching the imagination of many interested stakeholders — for good reasons. For IoT to come into its own in the long run, devices sooner or later will have to communicate directly between each other. More than that, they must also be able to initiate further action without waiting for external instructions.
Blockchain can potentially add many benefits to IoT scenarios. Both — IoT and blockchain — are based on decentralized, distributed approaches; in combination, they potentially offer huge benefits from operational efficiencies to revenue generation. While these benefits will not emerge overnight, business and technology leaders need to acquaint themselves now with the possibilities as well as the challenges of blockchain technology in the IoT context, because:
Conceptually, blockchain technology is a good match for IoT scenarios. IoT applications are by definition distributed and call for devices to interact directly with each other rather than via existing centralized models.
Blockchain has the potential for improved IoT features, cost-efficiency, and compliance. Blockchain is not an end in itself, but forms the basis for applications, including potentially smart contracts, which support specific IoT processes.
Companies are turning to digital to do one of the three things: improve customer experience (CX) using digital technologies; improve their operational efficiency to better serve customers; and launch new business models.
The manufacturing and industrial sectors are undergoing a similar transformation. In my recent discussions with leaders in this market, Industry 4.0 and smart factory dominate the conversations, but the discussions quickly shift to the Internet of things (IoT). While the industrial internet is the most significant manifestation of the digital revolution in these sectors, we are also coming across a broader range of digital initiatives from manufacturing firms.
Tech vendors and systems integrators working with manufacturing firms have identified two types of engagements emerging. Infosys’ Global Head of the Manufacturing Vertical, Nitesh Bansal opined that one set of firms are taking charge of sensors and monitors that they own and leveraging the data assets to improve predictive maintenance, asset efficiency and improve track and trace. Outcomes from these digital operational excellence (DOX) initiatives include:
Collecting data and analyzing it for better predictive maintenance
Empowering technicians to do their job better by providing actionable directions at the point of maintenance
Using augmented reality to help with quick diagnosis and fix
Increasing the asset throughput while increasing safety using automated self-driven vehicles
Nokia’s services division recently hosted an analyst event where it elaborated on the interlinkage between network services and network infrastructure. Of course, network services matter to businesses and telcos because they help technology managers to better manage infrastructure complexity and to modernize network infrastructure with the goal of making networks faster and more reliable. However, there are more fundamental implications:
Network services add value to products and open new business areas. Customers want features and services that are relevant to them in the immediate context of their needs and desires. As more products become connected, network services will play a critical role in developing and enhancing such features. Moreover, network services play a central role in driving augmented and virtual-reality solutions in outdoor conditions, such as those already used in manufacturing by Caterpillar or in construction by BAM Group.
Open source big data technologies like Hadoop have done much to begin the transformation of analytics. We're moving from expensive and specialist analytics teams towards an environment in which processes, workflows, and decision-making throughout an organisation can - in theory at least - become usefully data-driven. Established providers of analytics, BI and data warehouse technologies liberally sprinkle Hadoop, Spark and other cool project names throughout their products, delivering real advantages and real cost-savings, as well as grabbing some of the Hadoop glow for themselves. Startups, often closely associated with shepherding one of the newer open source projects, also compete for mindshare and custom.
And the opportunity is big. Hortonworks, for example, has described the global big data market as a $50 billion opportunity. But that pales into insignificance next to what Hortonworks (again) describes as a $1.7 trillion opportunity. Other companies and analysts have their own numbers, which do differ, but the step-change is clear and significant. Hadoop, and the vendors gravitating to that community, mostly address 'data at rest'; data that has already been collected from some process or interaction or query. The bigger opportunity relates to 'data in motion,' and to the internet of things that will be responsible for generating so much of this.
Customers today are hyper-connected and their connectivity is rewriting the rules of business. Access to mobility, social networks, wearable devices, connected cars and hotels managed by robots are rapidly changing the behaviors of how customers engage and purchase. Think how you watch a film, shop or order a taxi.
The disruptive power in the hands of newly tech-savvy customers is forcing every business to evolve into a digital business or perish.
Infrastructure is at the center of the Digital Transformation
The digital transformation requires that organizations evolve their underlying technology infrastructure investments to fuel a business technology (BT) agenda, with technology designed to win, serve, and retain customers. Infrastructure – whether it is managed internally or hidden behind some cloud service – is a big part of the digital in digital business. I&O leaders can no longer simply focus on the same old approach to infrastructure. Internal business operations, or systems of record will remain important, but the emphasis must shift more to systems powering the newer digital customer experience
We are all aware that software is at the center of transitioning every successful business today. This software focus fueled a rapid expansion of cloud services and many argue that there is no longer a necessity to own hardware. This has turned the infrastructure world upside down. Hardware speeds and feeds no longer dominate infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals' criteria. In some use cases, qualities like the fastest packet-processing chip or largest disk capacity are critical, but they matter less to many of the systems of engagement in the BT agenda. As you design your BT services, be aware of which solution is right for optimizing the customer experience.
Businesses can obtain major benefits — including better customer experiences and operational excellence — from the internet of things (IoT) by extracting insights from connected objects and delivering feature-rich connected products.
The mobile mind shift requires businesses to proactively support these IoT benefits for nonstationary connected objects that exist as part of IoT solutions. In particular, the IoT forces businesses to acquaint themselves with the implications of mobility in the IoT context for connectivity, security, compliance with privacy and other regulations, and data management for mobility. This means that:
Mobile technologies are central to most IoT solutions. To date, technology managers have mostly focused on enterprise mobility management (EMM) as part of their mobile activities. This narrow focus is insufficient for IoT solutions.
Mobile IoT is not a technology revolution but a fundamental business process transformation. Mobility requires managers not only to deploy mobile technologies but also to exploit them to support specific business process requirements.
Mobile technologies set the framework for IoT solutions. Mobile has distinct implications for aspects like broadband availability, data management, security, and local data compliance. Ignoring these will undermine your IoT initiatives and return on investment.
My new report, Mobilize The Internet Of Things, provides advice and insights for businesses on addressing these mobile challenges in the context of planning for and implementing IoT solutions.
Marketers are always falling in love with mobile’s latest “shiny new object” and new technology acronyms — 5G, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), NFC (near-field communication), RWD (responsive web design), etc. — and they’re constantly looking for the next platform, whether it’s virtual reality (VR), bots, artificial intelligence (AI), or the internet of things (IoT).
However, it is time to stop this quixotic quest for a paradigmatic new platform to replace mobile! Instead, recognize that mobile will activate these adjacent technologies to enable new brand experiences.
Over the past decade, smartphones have become a sort of black hole, integrating a huge array of sensors, but mobile is now exploding back out to our environments. Sensors and connectivity are expanding beyond smartphones to our wrists, bodies, cars, TVs, and washing machines as well as to buildings and “invisible” places in the world around us. The IoT is generating tectonic shifts among digital platforms and tech vendors, signaling a new wave of disruption, and unleashing new forms of competition.
The IoT is also redefining brand engagement by enabling marketers to:
Listen to their customers and analyze their real behaviors.
Create more frequent and intimate consumer interactions.