Every business and industry is being redefined by digital transformation. No topic defines that more than the Internet of Things (IoT).
As IoT projects mature, they typically evolve from point solutions into more comprehensive end-to-end IT solutions that drive intelligent operations and improve better business outcomes. IoT is also a key enabler for digital transformation.
Chet Geschickter, research director at Gartner, recently shared his outlook on digital transformation, and how CIOs can take advantage of the IoT to drive business value.
Q: What should organisations be doing to drive business value from IoT?
A: The first step is to move the conversation from talking about IoT, to talking about what IoT can do, or be, specific to your organisation. For example, a utility may be focused on IoT as an enabler of a broad smart grid initiative, or on how to improve the performance of specific assets, like transformers. Or, if in healthcare, the focus may be on enabling real-time healthcare. It’s really a matter of the application of the technology more than the naming of the technology. In terms of business value, get specific and ask questions about how IoT can deliver value to your internal operations, or improve your strategic posture in markets.
The CIO needs to move from just implementing requirements handed down from the business to becoming a strategic enabler of new digital opportunities.
Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see companies making as they approach IoT in a business context?
A: One mistake is to approach IoT like it’s an entirely new domain of technology or new concept. For many industries, quite the opposite is true. What’s new with IoT is that it’s a general purpose technology wave that is lowering costs, increasing functionality, and addressing issues in usability, interoperability and openness. Usability is not just for end-users, but also extends to developers building solutions.
Organisations also need to look at IoT in conjunction with other technologies. What happens when IoT is combined with machine learning, advanced analytics, augmented reality or all the above? Look at broader bundles of technologies and determine what can be done with those bundles. “Combinatorial innovation” is a term we use for this. What creative solutions and offerings can you build when you mix multiple transformational technologies together?
Q: What role must CIOs and IT leaders play in driving business value relative to IoT?
A: The CIO needs to move from just implementing requirements handed down from the business to becoming a strategic enabler of new digital opportunities. CIOs should scout out opportunities arising from emerging technologies like IoT, autonomous vehicles and machine learning and set the business context by asking how these emerging technologies can deliver strategic value to the organisation.
This is a more active approach that requires a lot of courage. CIOs will need to be willing to put ideas out there and to get feedback. You also need to be ready to team up and advocate not just your ideas, but also the ideas of others in your organisation. It is also key to look outside-in and bring an external perspective to the organisation. Ask yourself: How can you transform the customer experience? Are there new IoT ecosystems emerging that you might not control, but that you might be able to leverage?
It also requires leadership to engage people across the organisation to create new visions and alternative scenarios for the future. It’s no longer enough for IT to focus on performing well against traditional requirements. IT also needs to become more visionary in how to apply emerging technologies for business benefit. It’s about moving from managing an IT department to leading information and technology across the entire organisation. It’s about building the digital platform where IoT is a key component of that platform.