First coined in 1999, the “Internet of Things”(IoT) is now a reality. Smart, connected products are not just transforming our lives; they are transforming business models, value chains and industry silos. The expanded capabilities of these products and the data they generate herald a new era of competition. New strategic choices will determine which businesses will thrive in this emerging competitive landscape.
Smart, connected products will substantially affect the structure of many industries, as did the last decade’s internet-enabled IT. Value-chains will be re-shaped by changes to product design, marketing, manufacturing and after-sale service. New activities will be required in product data analytics and security. New best practices will emerge. A business will need to choose how it will deliver unique value to the set of customers it chooses to serve. With large amounts of data generated from diverse locations and aggregated very quickly, the ability to index, store and process such data will be critical.
Security and privacy risks cannot be under-estimated. Major new gateways to corporate systems and data will require stepped-up network security, device and sensor security and information encryption. To counter potential breaches secure storage of product and customer data will be vital. New authentication processes, control of access privileges and protection for the products themselves from hackers and unauthorised use are all issues to be considered in security management plans.
The shift to these next-gen products will demand new technologies, skills and processes throughout the value chain. Big data analytics, systems engineering, product clouds and software development may be beyond existing workforce capabilities. Businesses will need to assess which capabilities demand in-house development and those that best developed in new partnerships. Industries, along with businesses, will change and splinter; it is an evolution with a constant flow of new arrivals.
The Internet of Things has dawned. Global research company, Gartner estimates that nearly 26 billion devices will be on IoT by 2020. Improvements in product capability and performance will impact us all. New workforce skills will be in demand. While governments and business need to agree on the rules and regulations to set standards, enable innovation and protect data, the business landscape will be revolutionised.