The Internet of Things (IoT) is the new IT "gold rush". IoT promises to revolutionize everything we do--the way we Live, Learn, Heal, Work, Get around, and What we eat. Every technology company is positioning new products and services to enable IoT for businesses. This is creating a lot of confusion, and unrealistic expectations. The smart business leaders I'm talking to today are leveraging the patterns of previous technology revolutions to guide their IoT strategy. Technology revolutions tend to take a decade or more to generate meaningful revenue. The challenge can be once we reach the tipping point those that are not prepared will become irrelevant quickly. The companies preparing smartly today will reap the IoT rewards of tomorrow.
I believe there are three waves of IoT adaption:
- Wave 1 - IoT infrastructure – installing the modern compute, network connectivity, and data storage capability
- Wave 2 - IoT applications – building the new application that will enable new products, and services leveraging the IoT infrastructure of Wave 1
- Wave 3 – IoT enabled transformation of industries leveraging the applications and infrastructure of Wave 1 & 2
Today we are clearly in the first wave of IoT adaption. Businesses are adding IT capability for IoT workloads. Two major IT trends that I see from customers are:
- new capability to handle the volume, variety, and velocity of IoT data
- new data analytics capability
The smart businesses I'm working with are not building this capability as a new technology silo but instead building these new capabilities integrated with their existing IT infrastructure capability. If you look at the adaption patterns of the three main technology disruptions of the past twenty years: internet, mobile, and cloud they continued to leverage the capability and data from the previous generation. Today almost all the most successful new mobile applications are accessing existing customer relationship data. The smart businesses are adding new flash, and NVM data media to their IT infrastructure that is capable of ingesting, and processing data at 10 to 100x faster speeds to their architectures. When you have a single Wind Turbine generating 400 data points a second, a wind farm will easily overwhelm the IT infrastructure of most enterprises today. But if you incrementally add new data media like flash, and NVM technologies combining it with access to traditional product maintenance records you can start to greatly improve the output and reduce maintenance costs for your product.
The second major enterprise infrastructure trend I am seeing for IoT is the investment in next generation data analytics capability. From a technology perspective smart businesses are gathering their data in a virtual repositories called data lakes. The type of data and minimal structure different them from traditional data warehouses where the analytics processing is often predetermined. New roles such as chief data officers, chief data analytics officer, and data scientists are being created to better understand the businesses data assets, and govern those assets. I had a CTO of a major US health care provider tell me last week he has an unlimited amount of data available but the winners will be able to mine more data, faster for actionable information. Imagine if a patient with a chronic disease like high blood pressure could be monitored 24x7x365 by a consumer cost wearable device that could collect your vital signs every minute. Using the minute by minute data your healthcare provider could be compared your information to 1000's of others to optimize your maintenance care continuously. The same device would alert your doctor immediately if your vital signs indicated the need for immediate attention. The IT capabilities including network connectivity, data processing speeds, and data science knowledge are being created right now.
I work for Dell EMC and we are focused on augmenting our products to enable the new IoT infrastructure capabilities needed. Our CTO, John Roese recently presented our strategy at IOT Solutions World Congress. During this interview at the conference he summarized Dell Technologies IoT vision to provide the new IoT infrastructure capabilities to enable the second wave of adaption.
With any new technology it is easy to get caught up in the hype and excitement of the possibilities. The smart businesses will apply the learnings of the past to be prepared for the inevitable tipping point of IoT. Smart businesses are investing to add the new IT infrastructure capabilities that are needed for the next waves of IoT adaption. The second and third waves will come faster. Business that have the necessary IoT capability and can efficiently access their existing systems of record and data will be most successful.