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IoT - Adopt or Face Extinction!

IoT - Adopt or Face Extinction!

I published this article in May of 2016. I had just completed a gig on #connectedhomes / #IoT at that time. There were some future projections made that have proven to be true. And, the article is even more applicable in today's time. I hope  you enjoy  it! And, you feedback would be highly appreciated.

 

Provocative as the topic is, it is also the reality of what is about to happen to many businesses, industries and business models due to IoT. It has the hidden latency, or potential power that will not be readily visible until it is too late for companies that do not keep tabs on this change, adopt and adapt to it.

This is a change that many businesses may tend to ignore, especially the ones that are still expanding in their markets assuming all is well. They may be thinking this is another hype that will fade away. Or, they are oblivious to the impending change, or are too busy surviving to notice the oncoming tsunami of IoT driven changes and its disruption of current business models!

This is one management lesson not to be missed by C-suite and business leaders. Beware! disruption is heading your way and you need to be as vigilant of disruptive technologies and what they can do to your business.The power of big data, real time analytics, ubiquitous and ever increasing bandwidth, ubiquitous cloud, high chip processing speeds, etc. are all enablers supporting IoT driven change.

This is a change that is prompting smart businesses to partner with intra and inter industry companies to create solutions that far exceed solutions specific to their company or industry. And, this kind of partnership is what will cause disruption to existing business models unless they respond with compelling offers of their own.

IoT (Internet of Things) is one of the hottest technology trends, and is listed at the top of the Gartner Hype Cycle 2015 (www.Gartner.com). IoT itself has been around a long time but had been restricted to a few industries and applications due to technology limitations. Technology enablers listed above have convergence to open doors to connected devices where IoT is no longer restricted to a few applications, industries and intra-company solutions. IoT has become pervasive, thus landing it one of the top spots on the Gartner Hype Cycle in 2015. Gartner also projects that 6.4 Billion connected Things will be in use in 2016, up 30% from 2015 [1].

Market opportunity for IoT is huge. Market research firm IDC projects IoT market to reach $1.7 Trillion by 2020 [2}. Gartner, Deloitte, and others have similar projections for the IoT market. Initial data on IoT market penetration and the expected adoption rate indicates that IoT projections are real, IoT is here to stay, and it is going to become ubiquitous in the coming years.

What is not easily apparent is that IoT is going to disrupt many industries, businesses and business models. New business leaders will emerge, new business models will fall in place and companies that don’t adapt to this change will find themselves on the way to extinction.

Initial rush for IoT solutions was dominated by applications within an industry vertical, e.g., Industrial Automation. Here IoT devices and applications provide meaningful information for smart decisions for improving productivity, typically within a company. For example, IoT sensors and its data analytics provided alerts to a manufacturer to take preventative actions before a machine broke down. This avoided costly repairs and diminished productivity.

Data transportation was limited to telemetry and connected-ness within a limited geographic boundary, or within a company supported by its data transport infrastructure (e.g. WAN, LAN, corporate WAN etc.). Technology challenges in broadband, Wi-Fi and other data transmission approaches prevented IoT from becoming ubiquitous. Nor did companies have the propensity to share their data with anyone else. All of this is changing.

Technological advancements have removed this limitation. It is now possible for IoT to produce cross industry solutions. It helps fuse partnering companies’ knowledge and expertise in their fields to create new products and solutions whose benefits far exceed legacy solutions. Legacy solutions have to be integrated to derive meaningful information. Besides we are all familiar with the interoperability challenges vis-à-vis proprietary or incompatible interfaces and costly integration to deliver meaningful results.   

Cross industry and cross-company within the same industry IoT solution benefits is not lost on progressive companies. They are partnering together to produce synergistic solutions. Let us consider two examples of these – one in Consumer and another in Business to Business sectors to drive home the point of disruption.

Consumer Industry

Samsung’s SmartThings uses different smart home devices like smart bulbs, smart sensors, and other devices (called end points) from various manufacturers. Samsung integrates them together through one application to produce a smart home and home automation solution.

The individual end points may have their own user interfaces to manage end point functionality. However, an integrated application can “stitch” together each end point’s functionality into one. In this case, a touch of a button can lead to a series of actions by end points to accomplish desired outcome (called a use case). Clearly, the integrated app provides much powerful solution and value than standalone functionality of each end point.

For example, a smart home solution at night may automatically switch on outside lights, set back thermostat settings to a lower temperature, switch on a hallway or kitchen lights to a dim condition, and arm the window/door sensors to trigger an alert should they open etc. This would be one use case, perhaps called the “Night” mode. Similarly, several such use cases exist (e.g. Day, At Home …) providing customers control over their environment. Contrast this with what a user who may have to go through if they had to use app of each end point to produce the same result as above!

Business to Business

Manufacturers use machines and machines break down requiring repairs, and regular maintenance! In a traditional model, a buyer purchases machines, annual maintenance contracts, and/or also maintains them using their own staff. Intelligent monitoring software correlates several inputs and data to determine a potential breakdown alerting maintenance. Proactive actions taken prevent machines from breaking down. This prevents revenue loss. Sounds good right? Consider the following.

With sophisticated IoT sensors and other enabler technologies listed earlier, machine manufacturers will be able to manage machine performance much better than before. These IoT sensors will provide detailed characteristics of machine behavior and usage by their customers. Proactive maintenance can be performed much earlier than the model above.

With such high degree of predictability, the machine manufacturers (suppliers) may no longer sell machines anymore! They may, instead choose to offer “Machine as a Services” (MaaS) to the end user. And, the end user may appreciated it as they no longer have to incur capital purchases, maintain ownership of the machines and dispose of them when the time arrives! And, they can shift capex to opex easily.

With such overheads gone, a supplier that effectively develops MaaS model is going to clearly disrupt traditional "purchase + annual maintenance" model as the former offers clear advantages to the buyer. And, the money saved in training their staff, or even hiring maintenance staff is gone, or reduced substantially. An unwary supplier, especially with increasing market share may miss out on disruption happening to them, until it is too late.

This is the potential threat, or the tsunami I referred to earlier regarding IoT. This is a latent threatening existing business models. It is not obvious, unless one is vigilant of disruptive powers of IoT and its enabler technologies.

Conclusion

Whether a company offers industrial, business to business, or consumer solutions, they should keep a sharp eye on emerging technologies and understand their disruptive power. They need to think beyond their standalone products and service offerings and create synergistic and integrated solutions that far exceeds the value of each of their individual offers. They should consider leading change instead of playing catch up. At the minimum, they should consider keeping close tabs on the emerging IoT offers, evaluating and adjusting them to stay current and relevant.

If they don’t, their competitors will shrink their market position. Cheap processing power, cheap data storage, increased connectivity of devices and IoT allows for business models and solutions, not possible before, or possible only at tremendous costs. Enabling technologies have also lowered entry barriers where entry barriers used to be high.

Underestimating this shift in market dynamics can be disastrous. One simply needs to view the synergies and partnerships that have cropped up in intra and inter industries; to understand the risks of not getting involved. One also need to consider that many more such relationships are being established every day. These may have not made it to the press as yet, or never will until their solution is ready for market launch. A company that does not lead may have to play catch up. And in today’s highly connected and competitive world, it may be too late.

As I assist companies with IoT related solutions, I can’t help but marvel and the rapidity with which IoT is penetrating every aspect of our lives. Fitbit, Smart Watches, smartphones, Amazon Echo and so many other devices that we take for granted are all drawing us into the IoT world. Like it or not, IoT is already in our lives – both commercial and personal.

 Companies that have embraced this change are already marching forward with new and powerful product and services. They will therefore gain market share. Others will either adopt, adapt or perish!

 Hashtags: #IoT #CIO #Product #Development #Emerging #Technologies #CEO #Disruptive #Internet #of #Things #Innovation #Proof #Of #Concept #POC

[1] Gartner Says 6.4 Billion Connected “Things” Will Be in Use in 2016, Up 30 Percent from 2015.

[2] Internet of Things Market to Reach $1.7 Trillion by 2020: IDC

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

JP Batra is a Mid-Market transformational CTO, CIO and Fortune 100 Strategic Initiatives Executive Consultant & a Portfolio Manager who operates at the convergence of Business and enabled Technology. JP's work accelerates revenue growth and reduces costs through innovation and effective use of technology.

As an innovations strategist and emerging tech advisor, JP researches, identifies and develops technology strategy to improve business outcomes. He enables and leads digital transformation, innovation, employee engagement and leverages conventional and/or emerging technology and trends (Blockchain, IoT, AI, ML) to break out of incremental growth cycle and drive new revenue opportunities. He worked on connected homes project from its inception, facilitating the product selection, POC, test markets, IP rights and other related work between a Regional and an International Corporation for joint connected homes product development. His twitter handle is @jpbatra and linked in profile is <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jpbatra/">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jpbatra/</a>. He can be reached at [email protected]

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