What Every CIO Needs to Know about the Internet Of Things (IoT)

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The Internet of Things. Cloud. Big Data. Real-Time Analytics. To those who do not quite understand what these phrases mean (and let’s be honest, that’s likely to be a large portion of the world), words like “IoT” and “Big Data” are just buzzwords. The truth is, the Internet of Things encompasses much more than jargon and predictions of connected devices. According to Parker Trewin, Senior Director of Content and Communications of Aria Systems, “IoT is big news because it ups the ante: Reach out and touch somebody is becoming reach out and touch everything.” In my previous blog, we talked about absolutely everything from cars and houses to your family members will be connected to the internet. However, revenue projections involved in those applications are left in the hands of consumer adopters, and if you want to keep up with IoT on an enterprise level then you have to step up your game. We’re not talking about your toaster tweeting that your toast is ready; we’re talking about billions of dollars on the table, and if you don’t take it then someone else will.

The Internet of Things is not just a buzzword anymore.

“Why now?” you might ask. It all comes down to costs, technology advancements, and the market size creating an opportunity for enterprise businesses. A little over a year ago, Chris Murphy, Editor of InformationWeek, explained in an article that “one of the myths about the Internet of Things is that companies have all the data they need, but their real challenge is making sense of it. In reality, the cost of collecting some kinds of data remains too high, the quality of the data isn’t always good enough, and it remains difficult to integrate multiple data sources.” The good news is that the cost is no longer a challenge for IoT. In fact, in a recent report, Goldman Sachs pointed out that “key obstacles are gone.” This report lists several examples ranging from bandwidth to hardware. For instance, in the last 10 years, sensor prices have dropped to an average 60 cents from $1.30 Similarly, processing costs have decreased almost 60 times. This means that even more devices are “not just connected, but smart enough to know what to do with all the new data they are generating or receiving.” Meanwhile, there are analytics programs out there ready to dissect the ever-growing mountain of data generated by enterprise IoT applications.

Recent headlines further demonstrate how momentum is growing around the IoT; acquisitions by large technology companies like Google and Apple are key indicators of opportunities in IoT. For example, Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs in early 2014 for $3.2 billion shows us that the wireless world will continue to become intertwined with other industries. Whether you planned on including IoT in your business plans or not, you might want to start rethinking what’s in the pipeline to make sure you’re at the top for your industry. There are several predictions for how many devices will be connected within the next 3-5 years, and then there’s the market value associated with those figures. Gartner’s assessment of the huge potential of the Internet of Things is reflected in its forecast of a cumulative 25 billion things to be shipped by the year 2020, in industries ranging from automotive to food and beverage services. This potential partially obscures IoT contradictions, as it is both emergent and has been around awhile. Eventually, the market will grow so large and technology will advance so that nearly all markets will have no choice but cut the cords, invest in analytics, and go IoT. Cisco’s Managing Director, Stuart Taylor, discusses how the Internet of Things is the next Dot-Com. “Like all technology revolutions,” he explains, “the path was not a straight line. We had sock puppets and business models based on the elusive quest for eye-balls, and outrageous promises of new businesses and social upheavals. But, in the end we got there. No one today would argue that the Internet has not added immeasurable value to the world and changed our lives forever. The Internet of Things is similar to where we were two decades ago, at the start of the Dot-Com era.” There’s no better time like the present, as they say. If you haven’t engaged in IoT and taken advantage of the opportunity in front of you, then you might lose out to your competition.

Industry reports confirm: you need to get involved in IoT

If you’re not convinced to implement an IoT solution yet, then take a look at what technology analysts have to say. Bob Kraus, senior research analyst, Global Technology and Industry Research Organization, IDC, found that “industry-specific solutions will comprise the bulk of the non-consumer market, and as the benefits to manufacturing processes, logistics, energy efficiency, and customer experience become evident, the IoT market will continue to experience rapid growth.” In fact, the focus on enterprise markets will especially see rapid growth due to the ability to scale with thousands of connections as a time.

Let’s look at an enterprise application that has succeeded in using IoT data to make informed business decisions: Garmin. Internet Application Admin, Doug Strick, is responsible for the performance of several of Garmin’s web applications, including the online store and applications that powered the call center. Like most companies in the space, Garmin used several tools to monitor the performance of their web application and troubleshoot issues, however it found that these tools weren’t powerful enough to deliver true visibility into application performance. “We never had anything that would give us a deep dive into what was going on in the transactions inside our application. We had no historical data, and no insight into database calls, threads, etc.,” said Strick. Given the insight from AppDynamics, Strick explained that they “now understand how the application is growing over time. This data will prove invaluable in guiding future decisions in IT.”

According to research from International Data Corporation, “the worldwide IoT market will grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020 with a compound annual growth rate of 16.9%. Devices, connectivity, and IT services will make up the majority of the IoT market in 2020.” Additionally, many analysts expect North America to be the largest geographical market to use analytics for IoT. There has been empirical evidence that IoT is a growing market, but in which industries? As most people know, IoT spread across several industries from healthcare and the smart-home, to public defense and industrial manufacturing. Business Insider reports that “some of those markets will develop faster than others… there may be IoT market bubbles in certain industries, but other industries will likely pick up the slack for IoT adoption.” The figure below depicts estimations of market grow over the next few years per industry. As the experts have reported, IoT will continue to grow into other markets as technology advances.

Now what? What should the CIO do?

Given the thousands of devices getting connected via IoT everyday, there’s a huge demand for management, analytics and insights, and automation. First, the CIO must manage IoT connectivity costs by choosing the right architectures and protocols to optimize network and system resource utilization. Second, the CIO must use a management platform that offers new functions and deep visibility into applications and user characteristics. By utilizing existing IoT components from best-of-breed technology providers that demonstrate system maturity, CIOs can make sure their keeping up with the Internet of Things, and maximize the opportunity on the table.

As the CIO role shifts from the traditional cost center, to the innovation catalyst of a company, IoT will play a major role in bringing about new efficient processes and speed up the overall innovation. It will be the CIO’s duty to make sure the foundations are in place to support IoT in the enterprise, most notably, managing the mass amounts of data and monitoring the interconnectedness of devices through IoT monitoring.

Elle (Elizabeth) Grossenbacher

Mrs. Grossenbacher has served as a speaker at notable conferences including the Internet of Things (IoT) Expo and Moderator of the Silicon Valley IoT Symposium. Additionally, she has contributed to the growth and development of several communities within the Internet of Things space, including IoT Silicon Valley meetup group, the Wireless Communications Alliance, and offers 7+ years of experience in the high tech world. She holds a B.A, in Psychology, a B.A. in Design, and an MBA from the University of California, Davis.