IoT – Opportunity or Disruption? How Can You Benefit?

Layers of Disruption, and Opportunity
Opportunity or Disruption? Up to You

An interesting study I’d like to commission is the correlation of earnings with Internet connections. I.e. Do those with more connected devices earn more. Anecdotally at least it seems there is a very high correlation. Most of those I know earning 6 figures or more seem to be constantly connected with at least 3 devices.

Also consider how the vast majority of people connect to the Internet. Currently this is via the smartphone.

In a recent project where the City of Melbourne gave every tree an email address they learned that over 60% of the homeless have a smartphone. And it is well documented that the poor in developing nations have a far higher penetration of smarphones than Internet connected computers. Of the almost 3B connections to the Internet, almost 2B are via mobile devices.

This makes some sense, as computers automate more and more processes, scale the amount of information for decision inputs, and connect to lower cost or higher value labour, we amplify the return.

IoT Scales Connections

If this is the case, what does this mean for the Internet of Things? Of rather what does IoT mean for you? Personally?

Personal assets – wearable and mobile technologyThere are a number of areas of opportunity anyone can pursue right now:

  • Household assets – automated home & the connected car
  • Smart Buildings – office, campus, and residential
  • Industrial Internet – machinery, environmental and asset optimisation
  • Travel and transport – fleet management and logistics
  • Smart city – Traffic flow, lighting, safety and policing, waste disposal, event management
  • Utilities and Energy – Energy metering and usage, utility arbitrage
  • National – Environmental analysis, population management, migration challenges

There are opportunities throughout every sector from personal to national. Opportunities for connecting devices to the IoT that benefit you directly and for business.

This isn’t just true for technologists.

We need funding models that benefit from these connections, we need to establish legal frameworks. We need educators to teach users and practitioners how to use this technology. Marketers, sales people, recruiters.

The Internet of Things changes the very fabric of society. And that affects every job.

Whatever field you’re in there is a direct correlation to understanding and becoming a practitioner in IoT and financial success.

Maslow And The Key To Being A Futurist

Thinking Like A Futurist

I’ve always thought like a futurist. Which leads me to make some pretty bold assertions about technology, and its impending impact in our lives. Much of this stems from a career in technology, across 4 continents and 3 decades. Foreseeing the impact of the Internet when you led inititatives like automatic, remote, backup services before the web in the ’90’s, or the impact of Cloud, after building one of the world’s first Application Services Provider in 2000, becomes automatic.

But there are plenty of technology initiatives, many of which have failed to take precedence, like 3D TV’s and WAP. Others that succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination, like SMS texting.

How Did Texting Go Viral?

Remember when you had to learn a new language because you only had 160 characters and a numberpad to send a text. When you could only text people on the same phone network, in the same country. And then when you had to pay more to send across networks.

How is it that financially strapped young people could suddenly afford inordinate amounts to buy a mobile phone, and deal with this cumbersome technology?

Maslow

Here’s one of the keys I use to evaluate nascent technology. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Particularly the need for self-expression, connection.

I first learned the power of this when I was in the Air Force. We would be back from an exercise, exhausted and starving, in the meal queue, when mail arrived. To a man, anyone would leave sacrifice their place in line to get a letter from home.

Information and Communication Technology

This primal need drove language, writing, the printing press, the telegraph, and broadcast media like the radio and TV. It is the key to the rise of Mobile Phones (despite unwieldy SMS), to the Internet, to Smartphones, to YouTube, to Social Media. This is what drives Wearable Tech, IoT, Augmented and Virtual Reality.

3D  adds no connection over and above television, whereas SMS enables people to connect in a way unprecedented in history.

If you want to determine whether a technology will take off, pay heed to Maslow.

5 Key Steps To Success With IoT

Image of a ball of light generated by data
The Promise and Possibility of Systems of Foresight. Credit: Forbes

Are you considering the Internet of Things? Do you subscribe to the promise of 26B (Gartner) to 50B (Cisco) devices connected to the Internet by 2020? Have you thought about the Optimisation of Assets, the Differentiation of your Services, or the way you can Engage with Customers using IoT?

Despite the current hype, well over 99% of devices are still not connected to the Internet. Organisations are yet to reap any material return on IoT investments to date. Very much like Cloud computing was 6 or so years ago.

Working with customers as a Chief Technologist in HPE, and in my role on IoTAA with partners and competitors in the industry, I observe 5 clear principles that predicate success with IoT:

1. Robust and Transparent Partnerships

Unlike Cloud, Mobile, Analytics, or Social technologies there is no one vendor in the marketplace that provides everything from ‘Devices to Insight.’ So it is key to have strong partnership governance, and understand how technologies from different vendors integrate.

This is important not only for the vendors, but also on the buy side of the equation. IoT solutions transcend single buyers, and in some cases, vertical industries.

Consider a smart building, the architects, builders, developers, utilities, councils, and consumers all have a stake in the solution. Data needs to be protected, yet is the primary asset for sharing.

Getting a complete, transparent partnership model in place for all vendor and purchasor stakeholders is a strong predictor of success.

2. Agile Delivery Model

The scale of a typical IoT solution is too great, interdependencies too complex, and outcomes simply unknown for legacy delivery models to work.

Companies that begin small, then iterate rapidly in an agile manner, achieve quick wins that are critical to ongoing sponsorship. By the time you have gathered all of the requirements for a smart lighting project, the technology and business landscape will have changed.

Importantly, the Agile Delivery Model is key throughout the organisation, procurement, governance, security, recruitment etc. Not just for the IT development teams.

Indeed the funding model for a city or nationwide implementation is often derived from savings gained in the iterative nature of implementation.

3. Strong Analytics and Data Management

An outcome from any IoT deployment is unprecedented deluges of data. Companies that can scale data capacity accordingly, with defined tools and processes to analyse the data, lead the way with IoT implementations.

Typically these organisations have well run Cloud architectures, and the steps in place to transform to a Data Driven enterprise.

A hospital that can’t analyse current patient records, or co-ordinate a Discharge Summary, is in no place to cope with the tsunami of data that connecting every medical device within the hospital produces.

4. Mature Asset Management

One of the consequences of the ‘Post-PC’ era, the consumerisation of computing is a proliferation of assets throughout the enterprise. BYOD further complicates this with various ownership models: Corporate owned and controlled, corporate partly owned, individually owned and corporate secured, etc.

Organisations that don’t have a handle on the HW and SW assets connecting to and operating within their enterprise can not begin to appreciate the complexity of managing an IoT Asset Lifecycle.

5. Robust IT Security

The emergent nature of value and risk in an IoT implementation brings an evolving set of IT security challenges. From cars vulnerable to hacks over the air, to Nuclear Power Stations attacked by state based organisations. Even the meta-data, i.e. Data about a device that can be used to infer other information. E.g. Your garage door opening and closing correlated with Social Media information inferring whether you’re at home or not.

Organisations that have performing IT security functions, that evolve with the business and technology advances over time, are most likely to progress with successful IoT implementations.

Clear Roadmap to Success

The promise of IoT is great, but there are clear indicators of success evidenced in the maturity of organisations wishing to adopt these solutions.

There is also a race condition, where start-ups, unencumbered by legacy architectures can implement solutions quicker than enterprises can restructure. The best thing organisations can do to maintain competitiveness and benefit from the opportunities of IoT, is to appoint an executive tasked with leading the IoT function; continue with Digital Transformation to achieve maturity in the areas above; and begin with small scale PoC’s and Pilot implementations.

If you are considering IoT and would like to discuss this further, run an education session, or envision a strategy, please contact me.

The Sextant And The Internet Of Things

Shooting the Sun with a Sextant
Old school navigation

Dead Reckoning

At 4am one morning in ’92 in heavy fog, I was on the helm of S/Y ‘Cape Song,’ a 52′ Yawl, heading into Table Bay Harbour. Sailing the world’s most notorious coast, with the highest number of wrecks per nautical mile. In those days we didn’t have GPS, but we did have SatNav. A passing satellite every 12 hours or so would provide a fix, which you would then use with dead reckoning and other navigational aids such as sextants and lighthouses to plot your course.

What’s memorable about this particular night, apart from it being my first yacht delivery, not to mention first sail into the most famous harbour in the world, is the results of our navigation.

We estimated that Robben Island was about a mile to starboard, our East. We could hear surf close by, but fog has a way of amplifying and diffusing sound so we weren’t too worried. A sudden gust of wind opened a hole in the mist and just 100 yards to port waves were breaking on the rocks of the old prison. Oops.

Later we spent three days drinking and laughing about that experience. At the time not so much.

GPS, And The Sextant

Almost 2 years later I was delivery crew on a 107′ wishbone ketch, S/Y ‘Sintra’, crossing the Atlantic. We had SatNav, Radar, Weather Fax, Plotters and GPS. We also still took a daily plot with a sextant, and helmed to an old school compass. Timid Virgins and all that.

Sometime soon the GPS’s in our pockets will become ever more accurate as we wire up lampposts, traffic lights, and send balloons into the stratosphere to connect the planet. Despite being a Technology Evangelist, I still believe we should learn to use a sextant.

There are three reasons I believe it’s imperative to learn traditional skills and analogue systems:

1. Amplification of Skill

Technology simply accelerates or amplifies. If you can’t do something (well), technology will enable you to accomplish it. Remove the need to find a street directory or ask for directions. If you can do something, technology amplifies that even more.

2. The Joy of Mastery

True happiness comes in mastery.

“He who can catch a fly with chopsticks can do anything.”

‘Nuff said.

3. The Zombie Apocalypse

Technology still fails. If you can’t navigate the world without needing technology you’re going to be toast when SkyNet takes over, or the undead.