Enterprise IoT: Unlocking business value to gain a competitive edge

General Manager, Internet of Things, IBM

“At a time when organizations are looking to gain a competitive edge, the Internet of Things offers an opportunity to gather even more information that can improve processes, drive innovation and improve the customer experience. The challenge lies in understanding which data is most valuable and figuring out what do to with it.”—Chris O'Connor, IBM general manager for the Internet of Things

What are some of the biggest hurdles faced by organizations that are considering Internet of Things deployments?

Research firm IDC anticipates that as many as 28 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be in use by 2020, up from about 9 billion today. Organizations must consider how to handle unparalleled amounts and variety of data, how to manage the complexities of connecting to a seemingly unlimited number of devices and how to effectively integrate IoT data with data from other sources, such as internal data stores. Business value comes to those who improve their data capabilities—integration, automation and analysis—not to those who simply connect the most devices to the network.

How are Internet of Things platforms changing? What capabilities are important?

Even though hardware and connectivity capabilities are evolving rapidly, continuous changes put partial solution vendors in the position of constantly reintegrating, retesting and recertifying that all pieces work together. For organizations considering IoT deployments, the first step is making sure to have a connection and data strategy in place. The volume of data that IoT devices collect can dwarf any data dealt with so far. Getting that data in, getting it organized and putting it in context of the actions you want to take is essential.

Moreover, competing successfully in the vast IoT market requires a platform that can take advantage of the insights hidden in the wealth of IoT data. Look for a platform can do the following:

  • Automate data collection using scalable and secure processes.
  • Integrate data from multiple highly distributed sources.
  • Analyze data to effectively identify actionable insights.
  • Meet desired security and privacy requirements.

Is there an easy way of starting?

IBM is focusing on making IoT deployments as easy as 1, 2, 3. We start with a simple education to help you understand the basics. Hook up your phone, or use a sample sensor provided by our partners ARM, National Instruments or Intel, and in a matter of minutes, you will be able to bring data from your personal cell phone or the sample sensor directly into the cloud, then begin programming on top if with online service capabilities. It’s important that the on ramp be smooth, so that anyone can begin easily. Get started with IoT Foundation Platform, and then order some sensors—or attend a how-to webcast or a workshop. Getting started is easy. Better still, it’s free.

What sets the IBM IoT Foundation platform apart from other offerings?

Several things do: analytics, scale of connectivity, geographic reach and security. IBM has focused its investment in data centers and in local reach. Moreover, IBM IoT capabilities are available in 44 data centers around the world. In most cases, organizations can keep data in the country of origination, boosting security and privacy. What’s more, IBM analytics capabilities are highly regarded in the industry, and for good reason: IBM has invested more than $16 billion in analytics, and the extensive capabilities and services it offers are available online. Additionally, IBM’s risk methodology allows the quantification of risk around IoT devices, enabling businesses to choose an acceptable level of risk consider their device types and data sensitivity.