In my previous commentary in this space, I suggested that CIOs’ next big challenge and opportunity to demonstrate their value to their constituents would be regarding the rapidly growing ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) phenomenon. Now, let me give you the primary reason why CIOs and other IT professionals will be put to the test to help their business counterparts fulfill the promise of an increasingly connected world.
While many in the IT community are reacting cynically to the latest tech topic to move up the hype meter, smart CIOs and other IT professionals are quickly recognizing that multiple technological innovations and a myriad of market forces are fueling tremendous interest. A growing number of corporate initiatives are aimed at harnessing the business potential of a new generation of sensors, network services and analytic tools.
As the functional capabilities of these technical components exponentially expand and their relative costs fall, the prospects of monitoring, metering and measuring the behavior and performance of almost any object or device becomes more plausible. What only a few industries considered essential for their operations in the past – such as tracking truck-rolls to improve transportation industry logistics – is now viewed as game-changing for almost all industries.
Whether transforming the very nature of today’s automobile or the way we deliver healthcare, the fundamental way that various industries operate is quickly being reshaped by a widening array of interconnected technologies.
But there’s the rub. In truth, the Internet of Things is still a very loose constellation of independent pieces that need to be tied together more cost-effectively in order to fulfill the vision of various vendors like Cisco Systems’ “Internet of Everything” or Salesforce.com’s “Internet of the Customer.”
I firmly believe that we wouldn’t be talking about any of this without the ‘Cloud’, which has provided a more economical network infrastructure layer, big data storage and analytics capabilities, as well as a growing assortment of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions that help organizations deploy and manage connected things, and interpret and share information and insights about what the behavior of these things means.
But, there is no one button you can push to make it happen. On the contrary, there is a proliferation of established and emerging vendors pushing their own proprietary products and services promising to deliver these new capabilities.
The good news is that the tech industry recognizes the Internet of Things will not flourish without sufficient standards and integration tools to help corporate customers select the right solutions and pull them together effectively. The Internet of Things has been especially useful in promoting the virtues of application program interfaces (APIs), and has accelerated the idea of a new ‘API Economy’.
As I suggested in my previous commentary on this topic, CIOs and other IT professionals will be called on to play a key role in the development, deployment and delivery of new Internet of Things initiatives. They will provide critical insight into selecting and administering the right technologies and services in the following areas among others:
· Sensor technology
· Network connectivity
· APIs and data integration
· Data storage/management
· Big data analytics
· Business applications
· Security and privacy
In other words, many of the technical issues that have been the focus of CIOs and IT organizations for years, will become pivotal in profiting from the Internet of Things.
Kaplan is Managing Director of THINKstrategies (www.thinkstrategies.com), an independent consulting firm focused on the business implications of the on-demand services movement. He is also the founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace (www.cloudshowplace.com), and the host of the Cloud Innovators Summit series (www.cloudsummits.com). He can be reached at [email protected].
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