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In my article in 2015 edition in CIOReview (M2M who will follow and who will lead), I was talking about how technology and business innovation combined together play a key role to advance IoT.
Today, two years later, the question repeats itself, “How much innovation have we seen in the last couple of years that indicate IoT advancement?”
The answer does not only depend upon who you are asking, but also where are you seeking responses.
As a matter of fact, we have witnessed, in the last couple of years, a steady growth and global IoT innovation across all the IoT industry segments. But, has the growth been at the expected level? Or was it over-hyped?
To better evaluate the answer, we need to go back to the definition of IoT, which is about the intelligent integration of information, communication technology systems and data into our daily lives via machines, devices and sensors.
"The speed and real value of IoT will emerge when innovation, combined with constructive human-to-human interaction and positive engagement models are created"
This “intelligent” integration is revolutionizing industries and creating digital transformation that is leading way to actionable intelligence, catering enhanced productivity, higher efficiency, improved outcome, greater business value and better decision making processes. Eventually, it aims to achieve a “noble” objective, improving human life and living conditions one way or another.
The predicted success, therefore, of IoT, will largely depend on how it will improve or influence human life.
Up until now, this influence has not been significantly noticed, partly because the human factor of IoT is less spoken about.
The IoT industry acknowledges that due to the complex nature of the IoT ecosystem, it will require time, exceptional cooperation, partner’s engagement and joint value-creation models. It will be a built-up effort among all stakeholders.
The speed and real value of IoT will emerge when innovation, combined with constructive human-to-human interaction and positive engagement models are created. This means a shift to a collaborative and co-existing culture across technology providers, industry leaders, governments and corporations, regionally and internationally.
There are good signs as we see this shift happening. We have started seeing technology innovators, government initiatives, start-ups, standardization bodies and corporate leaders taking the lead.
But still, a lot of work needs to be done. Human-to-human interaction is becoming an indisputable foundation required to create a collaborative environment. Hopefully, this will achieve the predicted IoT success and will lead to the objective of human progress.
Back to the innovation question, there is strong evidence of impressive innovations in the last couple of years, everywhere across the globe, but most of them remain unknown, at a small scale or is never published.
In the developed world, people are adapting consumer-based solutions like wearables, smart homes or super-advanced upcoming IoT services like MaaS (Mobility as a Service) or TaaS (Transportation as a Service). Advanced segments such as driverless cars and shared driverless public transportation are well covered and marketed.
However, and equally important, we see other types of impressive IoT innovation in the emerging and developing world. Examples of solutions that just simply enable and boost “basic” human needs, which include providing “clean and affordable cooking gas,” i.e. using IoT and wireless technology to enable poor families to have hassle-free, affordable clean sources of continuous gas for cooking! The solution offers “Cooking” as a Service model for less fortunate families.
The list goes on and on. We see other interesting innovation in segments like agriculture, farming and healthcare. Examples of solutions for IoT-enabled, connected care, using advanced technologies with Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics and low cost wearable anonymously collect and intelligently correlate medical data to advance medical research. These solutions will provide healthcare at much lower costs eventually benefiting millions or billions of people around the globe.
These benefits are great for the global community, and will encourage groups such as university small teams, local specialized service providers, and globally diversified startups to develop new ideas that will likely lead the next generation of IoT innovations.
Nevertheless, the challenge of sustainably scaling and global integration is becoming a key to take IoT innovation to the next level where, unfortunately, most of those great innovations remain where they start or just stall at a proof-of-concept stage.
Linkage to a working and practical business model is becoming significantly important and key to accelerate the IoT industry for a “real” connected world benefiting the human’s life.
From a business perspective, IoT enablers and industry leaders will need to consider many factors in their return of investment (ROI) calculation, where other factors need to be carefully evaluated to avoid unpredicted hidden costs, costly implementation mistakes or longer breakeven points that possibly lead to dismissal of the business objectives and loss of the long-term benefits.
IoT business value creation and technology integration requires strong and well planned partnerships, collaboration, solid industry skills and, more importantly, requires a global view and well-established global expertise for a “connected world,” above and beyond just technological hype of “connected devices.”
The partnership model also evolves to represent an evolution from the traditional transaction-based vendor/customer relationship to a long lasting transformation-based relationship.
Active partners’ joint-engagement through all business cycle stages is absolutely needed to provide services in a demand-management environment that focuses on delivering optimum business value to all stakeholders. This value is valid whether in mobility, transportation, or simply cooking services.
The human factor is still a developing topic within the IoT context and it needs further discussion and exploration to ensure its technological advancement and eventual business innovation for human success.
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