The Internet of Things (IoT) has enormous potential for revolutionizing the way that we interact with technology. It's quickly disrupting consumer markets and specialized parts of the IT industry.
In a keynote speech he gave at Ipswitch Innovate 2015 User Summit, THINKstrategies Managing Director Jeff Kaplan reviewed the specific ways that IoT is being implemented and how it will affect planning for IT in the future.
“It's all about data – but the data is going to be coming from a lot of different places,” Jeff said.
The IoT Transforms the Data Center
One example that Jeff gave to illustrate the momentum of IoT was through the transformation of the modern data center. Back in the day, machines often hid behind closed doors. The technology was not nearly as tied to the business as it is now. As a result, the data center had become a closed-off shrine of technologies that people often did not understand and could not use.
Now, we are living in a much more “distributed” world. Companies are more likely to have elements of the data center linked directly to individual workstations or interacting with users.
The IoT Transforms Industry
IoT will also change various types of business in the 21st century, Jeff said, with an estimated 50 billion Internet-connected objects by 2020. Jeff and others see connected factories in our near future, where IoT-integrated machines will talk to each other about specific manufacturing processes. There's also a lot of potential in routing power around electrical grids for greener energy management.
Jeff also envisions the healthcare industry getting a big boost from IoT. Connected healthcare devices can more accurately monitor patients and measure outcomes. This data can get ported into central systems to make healthcare more efficient in many ways.
Planning for a Connected World
At a general level, businesses benefit from this new connected approach in vital ways. One is in decreasing response time to incidents.
“We react more quickly when things go wrong,” he said. He called this “proactive problem mitigation” and highlighted the ability of these data-connected systems to warn people about potential problems before they occur, not after.
In addition, there is the ability of connected systems to help with scheduling maintenance for industrial systems. Because people can maintain assets better, return on investment is better.
“What we’re talking about here is streamlining the operations,” Jeff said.
Development, Delivery, Support
Jeff also outlined other ways that IoT will support business. In short, he said, IoT is going to add better quality to products and services, and open new markets by being embedded in business processes.
“The barriers to entry are going down,” Jeff said, adding how smarter data systems open up new opportunities on many levels.
IoT can also increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by seeing how customers utilize products and services. Companies can also increase connectivity with the customer base, which has always been the “Holy Grail” for many businesses, he said.
A Multi-Level Approach to the Internet of Things
IoT can help businesses to monitor behavior, measure performance and benchmark efficiently, Jeff said. It enhances benchmarking processes, and helps analysts to break out of the box and get to that next level of detail.
In the past, Jeff said there have been challenges to this kind of progress, mostly because of the difficulty in gathering the data itself. One hurdle is that people do not always want to share personal data about themselves or the business processes they work on. However, some modern IoT structures help to change that, because they use an anonymous model.
“In today's world, we have the opportunity to gather information in an anonymous fashion and we all have a better appreciation of the value of sharing that information in such a way that doesn't compromise our position in the marketplace – it enhances that position.” – Jeff Kaplan
In a sense, IT becomes part of product and service delivery. Rather than the traditional approach of just looking at operations and supply chains from a bird’s-eye view, businesses can now get a more vibrant set of real-time reports that help drive decisions in everything from supply chains to performance to product and service models to customer interactions. The sum of all these parts is going to be a big win for the most competitive and most connected companies.
If you’d like to catch Jeff’s entire keynote, check out the replay below.