Over the last few years, there has been no shortage of hype about the Internet of things. Connected devices are the hot topic of discussion at conferences, in publications and in the news. Nevertheless, the IoT is rocketing into the business world and our lives. These devices—from activity trackers and door locks to beacons and RFID that monitor items as they pass through the supply chain—are emerging as the new normal.
It’s easy to focus on the Internet of things as an entity. But the reality is that it is nothing more than a wrapper for nearly all of today’s IT. The common denominator is that in a connected world everything eventually gets connected. Right now, it’s smartphones, sensors, beacons, RFID chips and various types of machines. Tomorrow, it’s drones, 3D printing and next-generation robots that behave in a far more sophisticated and human-like manner.
In addition, expect almost every legacy machine and device to become part of the network—from vehicles to TV sets—and many physical objects to wind up with a sensor or RFID tag so they can become connected. This will generate data volumes that make today’s repositories look downright quaint.
The result? “Everyone and everything becomes a data point. Context is everything,” said Tony Fross, vice president of digital advisory services at Capgemini Consulting.
Within this rapidly emerging framework, concepts such as agile and DevOps move way beyond being good ideas. They become critical to success. In a real-time business environment, an inability to move quickly, decisively and iteratively is a ball and chain. An inability to innovate on a consistent and ongoing basis is a death knell.
The takeaway? CIOs and other IT leaders must begin to rethink their role and redefine their responsibilities. The IT department is no longer the center of the IT universe; it’s just another satellite orbiting the sun. As organizations plug in cloud-based software, systems and databases—including infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings—and turn to APIs to connect everything, technology becomes less relevant than the functionality and data it delivers.
This, in turn, puts communication and collaboration under a microscope. It puts greater power in the hands of CMOs, CFOs, COOs, HR directors and others to make important tech-buying decisions. Yet, at the same time, this environment demands a level of strategic insight and oversight that must originate from the CIO’s office.