The Internet of Things: The Opportunities and Challenges of Interconnectedness
Roundtable on Digital Strategies • Irvine, CA • Hosted by Yum! Brands & Taco Bell February 20, 2014
“The Internet of Things is a technology revolution in the future of computing and communication that is based on the concept of anytime, anyplace connectivity for anything.”(1) “The Internet of Things also represents a network of Internet-enabled, real-world objects, such as nanotechnology, consumer electronics, home appliances, sensors of all kinds, embedded systems and personal mobile devices.”(2) These are just two of the many definitions of this phenomenon. An article by Dave Evans, published by Cisco in 2011, predicted that by 2020 a possible 50 billion devices will be connected. Estimates on some campuses where the next generation is being educated are that the campus needs to be prepared to handle up to 10 IP addresses per student! Everything from clothing (including wearables) to vehicles to machine parts to infrastructure is going online. Companies find they have deployed industrial devices “calling home” that they didn’t know about, and “home” isn’t necessarily them (the company that owns the device)!
Opportunities to know more about the performance of machines and do maintenance differently seem to abound. All this is occurring as the cost of harnessing powerful computing has dropped to around $400 for an iPhone from about $5 million for a super computer of comparable power in 1975. The arrival of inexpensive cloud-based computing, tools for marshaling big data and robust mobile technology makes the personalized, curated internet possible — at least in theory. Social media is ever more tied-in and sensing and reporting are immediate. What do we make of this all?
At this roundtable, we sought to understand this phenomenon and answer questions such as:
- At what pace is this going to move? Where will the real impact be? Where will it be felt first? What does the landscape look like? How do we separate the likely wheat from the likely chaff?
- Where is it real already? What are examples from each company of opportunities they are already exploiting, ones they are considering, or ones they clearly see coming?
- What should our approach / business strategy be with regards to IoT? How deeply do we invest in it? Should our focus be customer value-facing, internal/operating efficiency-creating, initially more analysis-oriented, or what?
- What is the impact on our social strategy and our Big Data approach? Whether B2B or B2C what are the implications for how we know and serve our customers? Increased context? For individualized marketing? For crowdsourcing?
- What are the management systems we have to change to be prepared? What new technologies/processes/people should we invest in now to prevent difficulties later?
- Who will “own” IoT in our enterprise/industry and why? IT? Marketing? Operations? How do we clarify enough to make coordinated decisions without stifling innovation?
- What types of products/services might be created or destroyed by IoT? Brand impact?
- What are the security, safety and privacy challenges? For corporations? For employees? For consumers? Will “knowing” where things are improve efficiency and security?
- What are the implications on education and how we choose and train our workforce? Do we need to reexamine our talent strategy? Our organization? Our leadership?
1 ITU Internet Reports 2005: The Internet of Things: Executive Summary
2 The Interconnecting of Everything by the IBM Academy of Technology, 2013