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Anthony Bartolo

Anthony Bartolo, Chief Product Officer – Collaboration, Mobility and IoT, Tata Communications

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Amplifying Processes Amidst a Digital Transformation

The size of the digital economy has already surpassed of the oil economy, and the World Economic Forum estimates that it is set to reach $100 trillion by 2025.

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While we witness digital transformation becoming the next big enterprise trend that will see businesses amplifying their IT strategies, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the infrastructure which will underpin it are being viewed as the next great enablers of technological innovation.

According to Gartner in 2016  “the IoT will help digital transformation but will take 5 to 10 years to gain mainstream adoption”. It was a sobering sight for the technology vendors that have invested in this much-hyped technology to see the IoT appearing on the peak of inflated expectations for the third consecutive year when Gartner published its 2016 Hype Cycle. However, a more comforting thought is that digital transformation, the thing that Gartner identifies will be underpinned by the IoT, is real and is happening.

The size of the digital economy has already surpassed of the oil economy, and the World Economic Forum estimates that it is set to reach $100 trillion by 2025. Furthermore, we can draw on powerful examples of what the combination of a digital-first business model and a sophisticated IoT infrastructure is capable of. Success stories such as AirBnB and Deliveroo showcase how IoT empowers individuals to transform the world and the way humans interact with it through technology. Perhaps, this is the reason behind Gartner urging CIOs to route their investments towards digital capabilities instead of commoditised IT, to bring diversity to businesses.

Logistics giant UPS is an excellent case in point when it comes to using on-vehicle IoT sensors. Connected to powerful data management platforms across its ecosystem of distribution centres, to calculate the optimum vehicle speed to maximise miles per gallon and monitor mileage by re-routing vehicles in real time based on GPS data – reducing its carbon footprint as well as costs.

In these two excellent examples, we are seeing what could be described as a “digital transformation of things”. Uber is another example where we have perhaps an overused example, but a convenient intersection between the smartphone, the taxi, the driver, the discovery, booking, mapping and payment systems.

The smartphone is the hub that connects all of these “things” together to create an experience which is seamless. Behind this is a complex infrastructure which brings this ecosystem and the different types of data within it together. All of these ‘things’ have had their role and place in the process transformed to create a better experience.

Unleashing digital transformation

These transformative digital-first approaches are what encourages businesses to adapt to digital transformation. IDC’s Worldwide Digital Transformation Predictions research in 2015 had forecast that by the end of 2017, two thirds of the CEOs of Global 2000 companies will have digital transformation at the core of their corporate strategy. Now we are in 2017, witnessing this become a reality.

Additionally industry estimates are very positive when it comes to the Internet of Things, Ericsson estimates that within the next five years, the world will be home to 28 billion connected devices; Cisco says the number of IoT sensors will grow to 50 billion by 2020; Intel predicts that there’ll be 200 billion Internet-connected things by 2030. Staying in 2030, EMC and IDC statistics concur that we will create, replicate and consume 44 zettabytes, equivalent to 44 trillion gigabytes of data, while the speed of analytics, according to SAP, will intensify thirty times over with 95% of queries being answered in milliseconds.

If Gartner’s assertion that on the road to digital transformation CEOs will be the captains of the ship  but CIOs are expected to be the co-pilots is proven correct, then these figures are every bit as daunting for the CIO as they sound. However, these figures should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat and, encouragingly, the movement towards digital transformation is evidence that CEOs and CIOs are investing in their shared future and the digital capabilities to use these phenomena to the benefit of their business.

With the above there is an inherent need to now change the way we think about digital transformation of things. Arguably, the focus of most businesses when it has come to digitisation has been on ‘looking’ digital – whether that’s making improvements to the company website, embracing mobile or using data analytics to glean better insights into our customers’ buying and decision making thought process. However, organizations across industries are beginning to turn it to reality and are making efforts to be digital. This brings about more existential questions around where a business targets to see itself, how the business makes money and how it will continue to grow. Moreover, the conversation about infrastructure becomes more strategic. How will we change the way our device ecosystem interacts? What data is valuable to us? How do we create a future-proofed infrastructure which gives us the scalability and agility we need to succeed in the digital economy?

With this change in tone, the obvious way ahead would be for CIOs to become strategic partners for marketing, finance, sales and other lines of business, as well as senior management, who all want to know how they can leverage the latest innovative technology platforms and ecosystems by combining news ideas and technologies from 28 billion connected devices where businesses can unlock unimaginable possibilities. The only game changer would be that those who affect change will succeed in the digital economy and those who are left behind will be dictated by the strength of their digital transformation strategy and the completeness of their digitisation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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