UK: Connectivity: The IoT

Last Updated: 5 September 2019
Article by Tim Ryan

A new business imperative

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network to which people, data, devices and more can be added, allowing new forms of engagement, additional services and new ways of generating and analysing data. With IoT data growing twice as fast as social and computer-generated data1, it is fast becoming a key driver of future business. A few years back every business was said to be in the process of becoming a tech company and digital business; arguably, we are now on the way to every industry becoming an IoT industry2.

4,756 IoT connections are made every minute3 and by 2025, the average connected person, anywhere in the world, is forecast to interact with connected devices every 18 seconds4. With IoT generated data growing so rapidly, it's remarkable that 46 percent of companies report a shortage of staff with the skills to support their IoT plans5.

What does it mean?

Given the range of IoT benefits, from new pricing models that include personalisation to the monetisation of IoT data, this remains a serious barrier. We are witnessing the convergence of the IoT, machine learning and a widening omnichannel, which will routinely include virtual and augmented reality within five years. This could compel certain services to become '...embedded directly into the user activity itself as a native, not a separate, function6.'

As with all technologies, yielding such benefits will require both organisational and data architecture changes. With '...everything now sending data signals, companies need to have a way to future-proof their ability to manipulate this data7.' What data we hold and how we use it will be the life and death of our companies; the very data we use to inform strategy could prove a liability if such contextual data reveals privacy invasion or poor data management practices.

Ambient connectivity redraws the where, why, how and what of business in fundamental ways. Previous mental models and assumptions will dissolve in the face of such profound change. Organisational and industry boundaries will erode at an accelerated rate, providing huge opportunities to not just do things differently but do completely different things. New risks will appear alongside the new opportunities, of course, and will require suitable mitigation. Those businesses who don't adapt their legacy systems (whether cultural, organisational or technological) will at best lose ground to start-ups and a new range of competitors.

Open data infrastructure, collaboration and transparency could all boost sustainability. Companies will need to consider the relevance of their overall, their IT and their talent strategies if they are to take full advantage of the IoT.

Footnotes

1. Source: IBM, retrieved 2018

2. Source: Forbes, 2018

3. Source: Entrepreneur, 2018

4. Source: Raconteur, 2018

5. Source: CIO, 2017

6. Source: Business Insider, 2016

7. Source: DB News, 2018

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