Accelerating your enterprise
IoT programme – exclusive interview with Tony Shakib, IoT Business Acceleration Leader, Microsoft Azure extracted from our IoT Special Report.
How well are companies doing at deploying IoT?
There’s been a lot of investment in IoT infrastructure and we’re starting to see some big returns. This is partly thanks to seamless connectivity, which has gotten better and cheaper, and partly due to the growing ease of activating applications in the cloud. This is allowing companies to capture meaningful data, and integrate it into their workflow management systems, where they can start delivering, and acting on, real-time insights.
Some industries are quite advanced; in automotive we expect to see a majority of new cars with sophisticated IoT by 2022. To varying degrees other industries will come of age in the next few years: retail will use smart analytics to understand in-store behaviour and manage supply chains, buildings will become smarter to save energy, healthcare will expand remote care, and agriculture will automate laborious processes such as harvesting.
I feel we’re at an inflection point where some are starting to be able to do that seriously, gradually crossing from the experimental phase to mass adoption. Once we get there, we’ll see real change.
How are these companies approaching IoT?
Mostly, companies are finding their way by taking small steps to deliver a specific goal, then scaling up as they realise the potential.
Take a simple example of an elevator manufacturer we worked with, which wanted to put in sensors that would alert them if it stopped working. As they started to collect the data, they realised they could use data to understand problems in detail. Now they know exactly which part is broken, who to send, and have even developed AR repair guides so engineers can fix problems outside their experience. This amounts to a much bigger benefit than originally intended, reducing cost, and improving their customers’ experience.
Once you start connecting devices and using data intelligently, the amount of innovation you can do becomes exponential.
How can they accelerate these IoT programmes?
Moving from incremental advances to big disruptive IoT-driven transformation needs cultural change. Tech is not the bottleneck – devices, security, connectivity, and cloud platforms are all there if you know where to look. The problem is people struggling to understand the art of the possible.
Especially for industries not born in the digital age, there is need for a significant change of mindset to allow them to effectively invest in and deploy IoT in a way that works for users, but more importantly, enables the organisation to become driven by the data that IoT produces.
Such change sometimes happens – perhaps for 20% of companies – thanks to a visionary leader who really gets it. More often it comes from a lack of choice – if competitors race ahead or there is a sudden disruptive event – say a global pandemic – that really spurs people into action.