During its short history, the Internet of Things has mostly been about technology and, yes, getting everything connected to everything else is a huge challenge for IT departments as well as for vendors. Big companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft focus, for the most part, on infrastructure by providing platforms as a service. While that remains important, the truth is that business outcomes drive IoT, not technology. When we talk to enterprise customers and to the people who are driving their business models, it soon becomes very clear they know exactly what they want to achieve, and they realize that if they could only connect it would create entirely new business models that would enable them to make more money.
The problem is that the people responsible for a desired business outcome generally have no idea at all about the technology they’ll need – the hardware, the software, and the embedded solutions – that will deliver the results they’re aiming for. It may sound like a cliché, but that poses both a problem and an opportunity.
In IoT, it is becoming more and more important to get the applications to drive the business
When we find a company in this situation they do not need proof of technology (something that we here at Avnet Silica have been rather good at over the years), but proof of business outcome. They don’t care what the technology looks like, they just want results. Within IoT, unfortunately, things aren’t integrated tightly enough – at least not yet. That’s why we’re busy doing exactly that, specifically connecting from the sensor to the gateway all the way up to the cloud in order to deliver the right information at the right time to the right place – remember the old IBM slogan? We design dashboards that show sensor activity, and while that’s all very fine, in the end all it does is to prove sensor technology. It doesn’t prove anything about the business case.
What we are doing today is integrating all the technologies and moving ever closer to the customers’ applications and their business models so they can quickly reach their business goals. At the end of the day, that’s what’s going to accelerate the entire IoT market. The challenge for Avnet is to bring our edge solutions into the world of the platform providers, people like IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon AWS – it’s unlikely there’ll be more because of the huge development costs. These platforms are beginning to resemble utilities, like the guys who deliver electricity or water to our homes. In IoT, it is becoming more and more important to get to the applications that drive the business. And while there are only a handful of platform providers, there are hundreds and hundreds of application providers that cater to the needs of all kinds of businesses. Those are the ones we need to bring into the world of IoT so we can oﬀer our business customers the end-to-end solutions they need if they are to achieve the outcomes they’re aiming for.
The technology we need to create the world of IoT is largely available already. What we need now is for the technology people to find a way to connect with the business world. Aligning IT and business has certainly never been more important than it is today.