Alex Bazin, VP, Head of IoT, Fujitsu
The heart of any successful IoT project is a clear business need. In recent years, these projects have tended to focus on efficiency savings or productivity gains, but this is changing. Today companies are looking to use technology to create new revenue streams, integrate the value chain, or change from one-off to recurring income models. An example of this is in manufacturing, where connected products allow a company to create a direct, long-term relationship with customers.
Cloud is absolutely vital to the success of IoT. By their very nature IoT, projects start small and grow quickly. The technologies necessary for an IoT project are also changing every day. This necessitates using a platform that is responsive, scalable and regularly updated, only cloud technologies can really provide this. For consumer facing IoT projects, being able to utilize public cloud IoT services also reduces the strain on companies’ internal IT resources.
The other challenge many CIOs face is a skills shortage to develop and maintain IoT solutions. Using cloud services massively simplifies the deployment and support of IoT services and outsources the maintenance of the infrastructure layer to the cloud services provider. Our experience with customers is that use of cloud platforms can reduce both the time to deployment and cost of ownership by more than 50 percent.
In the coming year, we will see real innovation in networking and security for IoT, both of which can be significant constraints on adoption. We will also see a blurring of the divide between cloud and on-premise IoT; with so-called edge computing being used in combination with cloud to achieve a better balance of real-time performance and scalability.
My biggest lesson learned is to always be clear on the business success criteria prior to beginning an IoT project. If you cannot define and measure what value an IoT program will bring to the business, it will never gain traction.
In terms of how the CIO’s role has changed, IoT sits between Information Technology and Operational Technology (OT). Traditionally OT has been owned by the COO or other business leads, with little interaction with the CIO or the IT department. This is changing, with the IT and OT departments needing to work much more closely and learn from each other in how to support IoT solutions within the business.
The CIO is also beginning to re-establish their relevance in the IoT discussion as more and more IoT solutions are being utilized by lines of business become mission critical or need to integrate into core IT systems. This provides an opportunity for the CIO to deliver leadership and vision necessary to developing a comprehensive IoT strategy and gaining synergies from the often disparate IoT investments made by individual business units.
Analytics, analytics, analytics! IoT has been moving from its Machine to Machine heritage where the value was in the sensors and networks, to value created by the ability to rapidly extract actionable intelligence from that data.
IoT will transform so many industries and fundamentally disrupt the value chains those industries are based on. Take self-driving cars as an example, not only will this cause a huge change in how automotive manufacturers do product management, but it will also have massive effects on other industries. Insurance will be transformed from an individual insurance model to something much more akin to the aviation industry, vehicle leasing and finance companies may find their business models disrupted, and the taxi and logistics industries may look very different indeed.
I find myself spending a lot more time working with business leaders and talking about business models than I have in the past. IoT has given a more immediate relevance to IT in business and this can only be a positive thing.