In the first of two blogs, Verto provides some context and takeaways from the recent TAG IoT Symposium. This first post provides the background and context while Part Deux will deliver the takeaways and the all important “The Verto Verdict”. The first thing to consider is that assuming the technology's not quite good enough to sell itself, people are still asking one of the age old questions within this new technology; “Are your sales team selling technology or a business solution?”
Every Vice President of Sales and Marketing should be asking themselves this question every day. Too often we are enamored with new technology buzz words such as IoT (Internet of Things) and expect the sales goals to be met with a few networking events, slick videos, collateral and some social media. Well let’s first start out with some interesting insights from last week’s TAG’s Second IoT Symposium, held in Atlanta. The key sponsors were the heavy weights of technology from Honeywell, to SAP, AT&T Business, and a local systems integrator The Cumberland Group. The theme “The Time is Now” was used to emphasize the importance of developing business cases and proofs of concept for the deployment of IoT solutions. So, what can we take away from the conference to convince us that the time is “now”?
“IoT” today is very much like “The Cloud” a few years ago. Everyone thought this sounded great with lower capital investments required to build data centers and software applications to a Software and Infrastructure as a Service operating expense model. So, Equinix, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and IBM all created Cloud practices to sell you this important technology. Now everything is called “Cloud” and the real business applications are the value not the software defined networks or Hyperservers. The Internet of Things is generally described as the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as "connected devices" and "smart devices"), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
Ok, so now we’ve all got that straight, let’s share some of the highlights from the conference and draw some conclusions (in the next blog) as to whether the time really is "now”. The conference provided multiple sessions with various customers presenting their use cases summarizing their deployments over the last 12 months.
Obviously, the applications of IoT are broad and the implications are immense. But the goals of business are nothing unusual. Businesses are looking to reduce cost, improve productivity, liberate new revenue streams and identify strategic opportunity. No surprises then that business case and use cases must be built with one or more of these goals in mind.
The time is “now” is as much a result of other factors as it is the availability of appropriate sensor technology. Lots of sensors capture and transmit lots of data. Thus, one needs bandwidth, cheap processing and storage and tools to analyze the deluge of data. These have all become cheaper and more available over the past few years, quickly accelerating practical applications.
As much as business demands certainty today journeys with technologies, like IoT, have uncertain outcomes. “The opportunities enabled by the Internet of Things are as transformational as they are endless” according to the marketing team at SAP in their Leonardo Primer. The lesson for business here is to tolerate some risk. When dealing with transformative and unfamiliar technology and technological combinations it’s OK to see where the journey takes you without insisting on pre-conceived outcomes. For example, Honeywell presented an LTL application that identified back haul drivers with empty containers that could be utilized for point to point delivery versus a hub and spoke methodology. This was uncovered as they analyzed data from IoT container locations and times of delivery. The point is that they didn't really know what they would find when they started to gather and then analyze the data. Irrespective of the outcome, though, it is better to start these journeys sooner than later.
According to data from Honeywell, Supply Chain should remain an area of focus. Why, you may ask rightfully assuming that we've flogged that dead horse haven't we? Well maybe not. Honeywell claim that the macroeconomic payoffs are big here. Improving supply chains and logistics overall can have significant positive impact on growth in GDP and global trade.
In the next blog we’ll dive into the challenges of orienting this idea of the IoT into business solutions, making the dangerous assumption that maybe the technology isn't quite good enough to sell itself, and might need some help from the good old, reliable guys and gals in Sales and Marketing.