This year’s Innovation Showcase at Enterprise Connect is about IoT.
An IoT demonstration at a Genesys conference last fall showed how sensors in a washing machine will reshape customer experience. In addition to Genesys, Bosch, Relayr, and Dimension Data contributed to the solution.
IoT is not something that just applies to other companies. It will impact vendors, customers, providers, and create a tremendous opportunities for new players. IoT will breathe new life into otherwise low-tech and mature home appliances. However, the concepts will equally apply across many sectors including retail, healthcare, and insurance.
Soon, the typical enterprise will have more connected things than employees. The Seattle Times recently reported that Amazon has 45,000 robots across 20 fulfillment centers. I can’t compare that to the employee count, but can say the bots increased 50 percent from last year.
Robots are just one type of thing. The Internet of Things (IoT) will be as diverse as its impact. In addition to physical and software-based bots are sensors and appliances. But don’t get distracted by the things, the bigger story is the data.
It’s extraordinary how much guessing takes place in the modern enterprise. The smartphone removed a big chunk of guess work. We settle arguments quickly with a simple query on a smartphone. But, corporate information is still relatively buried. The movement to change this is called digital transformation - and IoT contributes to the cause.
IoT data enables intelligent actions and decisions. The information that IoT provides can create new business models, big data opportunities, connectivity challenges, and will give birth to totally new platforms:
- New Business Models: Products are turning into services that benefits manufacturer and customer. Pre-IoT it was difficult for manufacturers to know how its products were used or consumed. Product managers instead fish for clues with surveys and interviews. Product companies are becoming service companies. For example, John Deere is now outfitting their tractors with IoT sensors that provide so much valuable information that they now sell back interpretive services to help their customers decrease costs and increase yields.
- Big Data: Although “big data” is a relatively new term, the concept is not. For example, the insurance industry has always used big data in the form of actuarial science applied to population data. The difference now is that more data is collected faster - sometimes even in real-time. IoT sensors can provide real-time informative data that can reveal new patterns and relationships.
- Connectivity: The Internet part of IoT doesn’t have to be the Internet. Many IoT devices use other connectivity options such as BlueTooth and LoRa. However, there is always a local or wide area net component so that devices can send and/or receive data. With networking comes issues of reliability and security. Many IoT situations rely on batteries which increases the importance of low power consumption. IoT data needs to be kept private and protected from manipulation. Upgradeability is also important as many discovered last October when IoT devices were hijacked for nefarious purposes.
- Platforms: Organizations will need new tools (and partners) to manage and leverage the enormous amount of IoT devices and data. As we connect more things (doors, cars, rooms, buildings, t-stats, robots, equipment, etc.) management and control becomes exponentially more difficult. The solution appears to be a new breed of IoT-optimized platforms that assist with management, integration, and data collection. These platforms from both giant established compute vendors and emerging startups are sold as products and services. Some offer strong data analysis capabilities.
Washing machines, warehouse operations, tractors -- IoT isn’t about a specific industry or vertical -- it’s non-selective and is on track to become a critical extension of enterprise communications. It’s no surprise that so many UC vendors, providers, carriers, and system integrators are creating IoT initiatives.
Along with Art Schoeller and Maribel Lopez, we are searching for several, ready-for-enterprise, IoT products and services to present to the Enterprise Connect audience. Eligibility and information for application are here - the deadline to apply is Feb 1, 2017.