Past business changes have tended to come from the application of one or two technologies to an industry. These changes have given us the agricultural, industrial, and information revolutions, each faster in turn than the last.
A much faster rate and breadth of innovative change can occur with IoT since it is an amalgam of multiple technologies. Through ubiquitous connectedness this can impact multiple domains at once. Practically, this means:
- Multiple sources of data: low unit cost enables embedding of devices with on-board communications using standard protocols: Bluetooth, ZigBee or conventional Wi-Fi.
- Multi-industry: due to communications standards, the multi-source data can be leveraged outside of an industry vertical, or over several industries. This creates many opportunities for innovation.
- Multi-disciplinary: modern real-time data analytics tools use machine learning to provide insights quickly, and present them in a way that is useful to non-IT experts directly. This further enhances innovation opportunities because it broadens the types of backgrounds, thinking patterns, and subject matter knowledge that can interpret and apply them.
- Rapid cycle time: The Information Revolution allowed a process of observation-analysis-thesis-application-review which could take months or more. IoT will make this cycle exponentially faster since:
- Data collection and analyses to create insights occurs in near real-time.
- Changes to process can be made in controlled areas and the results observed at small scale, rather than a lengthy thesis, creation and development phase.
- Such candidate process changes can be simulated and compared against current practise and promoted based upon real evidence.
- Human behaviour driven opportunities: IoT can pick up on human interactions giving the provider of the service an unprecedented view of what “works” for the user, and the ability to create new a value chain where none were suspected.
The limiting factors are no longer technological. Technical enablers of distributed intelligence, pervasive communications, and machine learning already exist, and are proven to work. The limiting factors are the time, tools, approaches and teaming used by organisations to gain insights and then implement new IoT applications faster than their competitors. I suggest that investing in and nurturing multi-disciplinary creativity, will unlock the IoT Revolution’s competitive advantage.
Takeaway: IoT has the potential to generate new business insights quickly. Your organisation’s appetite to actively seek and effectively apply these insights is now a critical competitive area. How aware and ready are you to use IoT for competitive advantage?