In the tech world, we seem to thrive on the phrase: “There’s never been a more interesting time in the industry.” It’s no wonder why. There have been so many transformational phases over the past two decades. We’re in an industry of constant change yet still it’s hard to imagine we’ll continue to see this happen at the same pace in the coming decade.
On the other side of the coin, when you consider the Internet of Things (IoT) and the opportunities that such a market will open up, suddenly the next phase of change doesn’t seem as difficult to envision. The roll out has already started but what does it looks like really? It can be a little bit overwhelming to think that ‘anything that can be connected, will be connected’ but we can’t ignore that this very concept will uncover vast opportunities for those of us willing to embrace this new world of IT.
This next phase isn’t just about enhancements in personal mobile and home devices. The opportunity that IoT opens up for enterprise connectivity is immense. Enterprise is being touted as the largest of the three main IoT markets next to government and connected home. Employee productivity, increased asset utilization and supply chain efficiencies are just some of the key benefits the enterprise space will enjoy.
So, what does this mean for growth opportunities? Smarter devices in the enterprise space, connected to the IoT ecosystem, mean data analytics solutions are employed to help frontline staff and power players in industry make more informed decisions based on greater accessibility to organisational and operational data. In this way, the world of work has already started to embrace analytics and information from the ‘edge’ of enterprise IT infrastructure such as sensors and gateways.
We use this data everyday too, like when we check the weather forecast and make the simple decision on wearing sunglasses or holding umbrellas, we’re using information based on complex mathematical models driven from enterprise level analytics engines. These are making sense out of huge amounts of sensor-driven edge data. This more effective use of data mining in the enterprise space alone is already having knock-on effects like creating a market need for big data storage solutions and services, not just data analytics and business intelligence (bi) products.
In the next phase, there’s a requirement for the channel to crack the next layer of IoT. This needs agile exploration, analysis and action around IoT data. The market for analytics software will open up even further. Whether ‘predictive’ or ‘reflective’, analytics will need to be optimised to adapt to data streams, in near real-time, and maintain a quality of insight that is accurate, integrated and can be interpreted easily.
Additionally, as we’ve seen on a regular basis in the news headlines, the requirement to protect privacy and secure information, whilst remaining compliant to regulations across EMEA, becomes absolutely critical. Both security software and services are already in high demand to manage data transfer and analytics without leaking information of being hacked. Data derived through automated responses from remote sensors requires a more advanced level of security. The location of data also adds to the complexity of security. For example, transmitting data remotely from an oil rig floating in the North Sea requires secure cloud storage which is capable of handling millions of small data packages securely from multiple devices and locations.
Mobility adds another dimension with the requirement for asset tracking and management, as well as secure data transmission over public networks. This mobility trend highlights the issue of security again as enterprises will need to be able to remotely identify faults in sensors to protect against sensor tampering, which allows hackers to ‘spoof’ data . This market need widens the scope for implementing access management solutions and services to verify data sources. All of these examples help to create an image of the next phase for IoT in terms of security requirements. This opens up another layer of IoT opportunity for the channel.
The moral here? Don’t simply think of IoT as a blinkered future where your coffee machine is connected to your alarm clock and your mobile is connected to your smart meter at home. It’s much more than that and we’ve witnessed the start of this. The edge solutions already in place around safety, compliance and facilities management have created the first phase of the IoT opportunity. The opportunity to connect ‘the edge’ enterprise systems to drive automated maintenance, for example, could be the first to realise real commercial value. For the next layer though, enterprise-focused IoT hardware and software in the manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and information sectors are where the real growth opportunities will be.