Bosch Connected World 2017 – Lessons From IoT Practitioners

With Paul Miller

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.
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Make Omnichannel A Cornerstone Of Your Digital Transformation – The Telco Angle

Source: Forrester, "Make Omnichannel A Cornerstone Of Your Telecom Digital Transformation"

Poor customer experiences remain the Achilles’ heel of telcos’ digital transformation efforts. We live in the age of the customer, and today’s telco customer has expectations that far exceed the traditional standard of telco customer service. A random search on Trustpilot for customer satisfaction with telcos in various countries shows widespread dissatisfaction.

Offering customers seamless omnichannel experiences is critical for telcos’ digital transformation efforts. Today, customers expect to use a variety of digital touchpoints. This omnichannel approach affects telcos’ customer engagement activities at every stage of the customer life cycle, yet many telcos are still struggling to meet their customers’ rising expectations for coherent end-to-end customer engagement. This matters because omnichannel:

  • Is central to telcos’ customer experience initiatives. Customers do not care about channels. They want to have great experiences irrespective of how they engage with telcos.
  • Is more of a cultural transformation than a technology project. Omnichannel solutions require a telco to think about the customer journey from the perspective of the customer. This is a radical break with the past.
  • Opens opportunities for telcos to act as third-party service brokers. Omnichannel will empower telcos to act as service brokers for third parties if they can align their big data, content, and knowledge management strategies.
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Platforms Are The Foundation For New Value Creation

While a lot has been written about consumer-facing platforms like Facebook and Uber, the platform impact on business-to-business relationships has not been as extensively investigated. However, these “business platform models” are transforming the way how traditional businesses create value. Business platforms will reorganize a wide variety of markets, work arrangements, and ultimately value creation and capture.

Business platforms push productivity improvements beyond automation activities. The real value creation now comes from analyzing data. These platform dynamics force every business to rethink its approach to innovation, marketing, sales, product development, delivery, and customer engagement. Business and technology leaders need to prepare to platform dynamics for several reasons:

  • Platforms change customer behavior and how businesses interact with customers. Business platforms will trigger radical changes to how we work, engage with customers, create value, and compete for the resulting profits. These business platforms offer companies fast access to scalable expertise at transparent cost and drive the much needed agility to quickly adjust customer experiences to changing requirements.
  • Business platform value creation centers on information gathering, sharing, and analyzing. Platforms focus on information exchange and provide an easier, more transparent way to access, analyze, and share this information. Business platform owners are developing power that may be more influential than that of the actual factory owners. But business platform owners do not have to own all factors of production; they tap into the expertise of platform participants.
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Mobile World Congress 2017: As Mobile Is Morphing Into Digital, Use Cases Matter More

Mobile World Congress (MWC) which took place in Barcelona once again broke new records in terms of attendees, reaching 108,000. Yet, discussions with end-user businesses indicate that mobility is often no longer treated as a standalone focus area by CIOs and CTOs. Mobility has become part of the broader digital transformation initiative. This has implications for mobile strategies. It also affects the decision where a business leader turns to in order to find inspirations for her digital transformation initiative.

Of course, mobility remains a critically important building block for all digital transformation initiatives. But mobility is part of a wider technology-driven business transformation. In my view, the biggest themes at MWC in 2017 that are relevant for digital transformation relate to IoT, AI, platforms, collaboration, and connectivity. I discuss what these themes mean for the CIO in a separate blog.

Importantly, all of these themes are interwoven. Hence, the CIO needs to build her digital transformation strategy on a comprehensive approach - with mobility is right at the heart. Still, there remains a risk that the CIO gets sucked into pursuing a compartmentalized technology strategy that lacks a comprehensive view of the real business objectives. It is essential that the CIO avoids a ‘bolt-on approach’ to these technology investments because of the technology interdependencies.

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Mobile World Congress 2017: Observations Regarding The Main Enterprise Themes

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.

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AI's Emerging Role In IoT Highlighted At IBM Genius Of Things Event

Photo: Bergman Group

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.
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The Business Case For Digital Transformation

Photo: Rebecca Minkoff

Digital transformation investments are ultimately about business survival through disruption. Such investments have a direct impact on customer expectations and go beyond the traditional ROI. The business case for such disruptive investments is the focus of the report, Build Your Digital Transformation Business Case Around The Customer And Revenue Growth. The scope for disruption spans the entire customer life cycle, affecting everything from the supply chain to after-sales support. The key takeaways from this report:

  • Disruptive transformation must be viewed as a strategic investment. The real value of digital transformation investments relates to long-term revenue growth, not short-term technology ROI. Bolt-on digital projects do not change the fundamental value relationship that you have with your customer. To maximize the impact of digital investments, business and technology leaders must learn to value such investments through the eyes of the company’s customers.
  • A classic ROI calculation is neither always feasible nor desirable for digital investments. Digital transformation changes business processes and models. ROI works for single digital initiatives, but not for shifts in business models. Digital investments aimed at disruptive change across the enterprise challenge traditional ROI calculations. Attributing benefits like customer satisfaction, group productivity, and group revenues — let alone business survival — to a single digital investment is impossible because so much of the impact of digital transformation is cumulative.
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Expectations And Suggestions For Mobile World Congress 2017 Visitors — From An Enterprise Angle

Photo: Bergman Group

Between February 27 and March 2, 2017, Mobile World Congress (MWC) will once again take place in Barcelona. Last year, over 100,000 attendees visited the event in search of new insights about “everything mobile.” This year’s MWC theme is "The Next Element" and aims to underline how elemental mobile has become in our everyday lives. I would go further, as I believe that mobility is increasingly treated as a key enabler of the wider digital transformation process. From an enterprise perspective, I expect that during MWC 2017:

  • Process-mobilization debates will gradually replace technology discussions. I expect a little less hype around the features and functions of shiny mobile devices and network components this year. I hope that there will be more of a debate about how mobility can enhance business processes and change business models. Events like Web Summit host more advanced debates about the impact of smart devices on accelerating the business platform economy. MWC 2017 visitors should look for relevant case studies from the likes of GE Digital that underline how these business platforms can support positive business outcomes.
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The Future Of B2B Mobile Enterprise Services

Business-to-business (B2B) ecosystems facilitate the continuous exchange of information and collaboration. B2B ecosystems will play a central role for all businesses because they form the basis for redefining approaches toward innovation, knowledge management, supply-chain optimization, product development, sales, and marketing.

While the ultimate focus of these ecosystems is to create customer value, their more immediate effect is to drive operational agility in service of customers. Mobility will be a central enabler for these B2B digital ecosystems. Why?

  • Mobility is evolving beyond enterprise mobility management. Mobility shifts the way B2B ecosystems service their customers, support their partners, and affect competition. As a first step, technology teams need to move beyond enterprise mobility management (EMM). This comprises device, app, and content management, as well as telecom expenses, policy management, and security management. EMM relies on using several mobile apps in parallel without any functional integration between them.
  • Enterprise mobility experiences will significantly improve. Today, despite all the excitement concerning automation and machine learning, smart mobile devices still rely on direct user instructions. Business customers and employees have to move in and out of dedicated mobile apps to obtain support for specific business processes like procurement, product information, or sales analytics. These enterprise mobile apps rarely take into account the conditions that particular enterprise users find themselves in.
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Web Summit Stakes Its Claim As One Of The Most Important Global Tech Events

Photo: Paddy Cosgrave, CEO and co-founder of Web Summit

Recently, Web Summit took place in Lisbon. “Web-what”? Web Summit is indeed a relative newcomer on the event scene, but you should take notice. At its core, Web Summit is all about connecting larger enterprises and investors to smaller tech companies. On a human level, Web Summit’s goal is to bring together youngish and enthusiastic technology entrepreneurs with experienced investors and leading managers of technology vendors. The result is a fresh and dynamic exchange of ideas and opinions as well as the mutual mentoring of the involved participants.

Web Summit started only in 2009 with a few dozen bloggers, journalists, and technologists in a hotel on the outskirts of Dublin. Web Summit’s rise to become one of the most important global technology conferences is remarkable. In 2016, the event already attracted 53,000 visitors from 166 countries and 15,000 companies, with 65% of visitors being senior managers, including 7,000 CEOs.

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