“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.
Most enterprises aren't fully exploiting real-time streaming data that flows from IoT devices and mobile, web, and enterprise apps. Streaming analytics is essential for real-time insights and bringing real-time context to apps. Don't dismiss streaming analytics as a form of "traditional analytics" use for postmortem analysis. Far from it — streaming analytics analyzes data right now, when it can be analyzed and put to good use to make applications of all kinds (including IoT) contextual and smarter. Forrester defines streaming analytics as:
Software that can filter, aggregate, enrich, and analyze a high throughput of data from multiple, disparate live data sources and in any data format to identify simple and complex patterns to provide applications with context to detect opportune situations, automate immediate actions, and dynamically adapt.
Forrester Wave™: Big Data Streaming Analytics, Q1 2016
To help enterprises understand what commercial and open source options are available, Rowan Curran and I evaluated 15 streaming analytics vendors using Forrester's Wave methodology. Forrester clients can read the full report to understand the market category and see the detailed criteria, scores, and ranking of the vendors. Here is a summary of the 15 vendors solutions we evaluated listed in alphabetical order:
The challenges of how to manage, ingest, store, analyze, and act upon data in the IoT are beginning to bear down on enterprises. The honeymoon talk of ‘billions and billions of devices’ is over and it’s time to get down to the dirt of how to generate value from all these connected devices. Streaming analytics platforms, already architected to handle IoT data as it streams into the data center, are being extended to deploy out to gateway devices (such as wireless access points) and even out to edge devices (such as manufacturing equipment) to extend the intelligence out to where data is generated and actions occur.
Forrester clients can read the full details of our analysis here and start the process of turning slow processes and weekly analytical batches into the immediate insights needed to support today’s dynamic business environment.
We’re now only a week away from the Mobile World Congress 2016 to be held again in Barcelona. As the excitement builds and we plan our schedules, it serves us to reflect back on last year’s event and to explore what we expect this year.
Mobile World Congress remains the pre-eminent event of the mobile industry and now one of the largest global events across all industries – a fact which illustrates an ambiguity in the meaning itself of “mobile industry.” Last year, over 94,000 people attended the event – a 10% increase from the 2014 event but a 30% increase over the 2013 event. Interest in “mobile” continues to grow – for now. But the most interesting stat about past attendees is diversification. Yes, the event continues to draw representatives from mobile operators, device manufacturers, network equipment providers, software vendors, and other usual suspects. But representation from other industries is growing. Last year almost ¼ of attendees came from industries other than telecom and technology, including 4% from finance, 3% from government and others from automotive, pharmaceutical, retail, education, and entertainment. I expect even more diversity this year.