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IoT Maturity: Dell EMC, GE And World Economic Forum Tout Next Steps For Evolution

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ANALYSIS: Big organisations discuss what’s next for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a pretty much a catchphrase in the technology world, from a the evergreen example of the smart fridge through to enabling fully-autonomous driving and the rise of robot assistants.

Everyone knows the IoT is a big topic, but some are still unconvinced if it’s enough to warrant investments and draw attentions away from putting everything in the cloud.

At IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona, we had a change to filter through some of the more recent views on how one of the industry’s biggest trends is evolving.

Figuring IoT out

Unknown Generic Man with Blank Empty Anonymous Face © Michael Brown - FotoliaBut is seems a long way off maturity, per the viewpoint of the World Economic Forum, and one of its directors Derek O’Halloran.

“I don’t think it’s been fundamentally disruptive yet,” he said, noting a survey the World Economic forum did that noted 88 percent of business leaders were not ready to explore the IoT.

However, he noted that it is not easy to predict where the IoT will go and how it will evolve in the near-future given the relentless march of technology and the vast production of data.

“All of these technologies are individually coming much faster than we expected, and when you start to combine them you start to come into the realm of what we all thought was science fiction. But we don’t really know exactly what it’s going to look like,” he said.

Mark Hutchinson president and CEO of GE Europe, agreed with O’Halloran: “A lot of companies don’t know what to do.”

He addedthat it has the vast potential to disrupt traditional business models but if companies drag their heels in adopting the IoT, then they could be left behind by more savvy rivals.

All aboard the IoT train

IoTA man not sort of a long job title, John Roese, executive vice president of cross-product operations and chief technology officer at Dell EMC, has equally noteworthy opinions on the IoT, which in part echo those of Hutchinson and O’Halloran.

“What IoT has done is demonstrate that the application of technology into the physical world could actually have the same level of disruption as what has happened in the cloud and social world over the last let’s say five years,” he said.

“Not only have we set a very high expectation of what IoT can do, we’ve also set a tremendous amount of fear about of what IoT can do.

“If you have an IoT project and you do not have line-of-sight to a material business impact, something that actually changes the financial outcome of you company or your competitive positioning, you are wasting your time.”

Roese pointed out that while Dell EMC works of providing the underlying infrastructure to support the adoption of IoT, it’s up to enterprises to figure out how they can put it to use in a meaningful way rather than simply adopt the technology.

Hutchinson was on the same page: “It’s all about how you change the culture” when it comes to the IoT, noting new ways of looking at old problems are needed as well as ensuring a company’s leadership is invested in exploring how smart devices and networked sensors can propel growth in their business.

“Making sure you have a roadmap and milestones on the way is so, so important,” he added, explain that rather than rush head first into the IoT, companies should focus on quick and easy wins to showcase the benefit of investing in IoT systems.

This might be easier than it would at first seem, as Roese argued that he has yet to encounter an IoT project that did not offer a tangible benefit to the company that created it.

Big picture IoT

world technologyProject that deliver bottom line benefits are great, but scale them up and across multiple sector and the impact they have can be significant if difficult to directly measure or define.

O’Halloran questioned how one can measure guaranteed crop yields to farmers who have adopted IoT services as an example of how it could become difficult to ensure the IoT services and systems being created are wholly beneficial.

He said IoT needs to empower its users, and creators of such connected technologies need to think “in terms of systems not technologies”, if the true ‘end-to-end’ advantages of the IoT are to be realised.

“Think about the economic, operational political, policy systems that technology ins now going to transform,” said O’Halloran.

“Think of technology as empowering and not determining; technology doesn’t happen to us we have a choice of how we use these technologies in our society, so let’s start actively making those choices.

“Let’s start thinking actively about these choices and building in by design not by default. And finally let’s think about the values that we want to protect, the values that we want to advance as a feature that we proactively build into these technologies that are shaping out society as we go forward.”

From the systems being championed and showcased at the IoT Solutions World Congress, from smart cities to giving sailing teams a competitive edge, it appears that many companies already have a weather eye on the big impact their technologies could have as the IoT arena matures.

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