It seems that lately, I can’t login to Twitter or open LinkedIn without being bombarded by articles about the coming wave of transformative business opportunities that will be created by of the Internet of Things. They herald IoT as the new frontier of economic growth, with Cisco estimating that connected products have the potential to generate more than $19 trillion of value in the coming years. But even as the promise of IoT has ensnared the minds of the business community, many have ignored or downplayed the massive elephant hiding behind the mountain of gold: that actually monetizing IoT is going to be hard. So hard, in fact, that Gartner estimates that through 2018, 80% of IoT implementations will squander their transformational opportunities.
I’ll give you an example: telematics have the potential to completely transform the insurance industry. But right now, most companies are focused on the data plumbing, rather than putting that data to work making business impacts. In short, the vast majority of the data being generated by connected devices remains undervalued and unmonetized.
There are exceptions. Automakers are leading the way in consumer facing IoT monetization, and in the B2B space Nest is a powerhouse with their Learning Thermostat product which enables them to offer energy management services to utilities. But as Gartner notes, the trend towards treating and deploying data as a monetizable asset is still in the “early adoption” phase.
I believe this shortfall is largely attributable to the fact that I’ve seen very few business leaders that have laid out concrete plans to turn the data being generated by our “things” into actual revenue. Capgemini Consulting notes that although 96% of senior business leaders have said their companies would be leveraging IoT in some way within the next three years, over 70% of organizations do not generate service revenues from their IoT solutions.
This is a huge issue, as to remain competitive and thrive in the digitally connected economy enterprises will need to find ways to monetize IoT data and harness it to enhance performance and create new business value. The problem is that most organizations are poorly equipped when it comes to the knowledge or experience needed to capitalize on monetizing their information assets. But as Albert Einstein famously said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”; and monetizing data from IoT can be a major competitive advantage for the truly innovative organizations that are doing it successfully.
A key piece of solving the IoT data monetization puzzle will be choosing the right technologies and partners to help them achieve their goals. The flood of data from the IoT will be wasted unless organizations can analyze and package it in a valuable way, and Gartner states that most opportunities for monetizing IoT data will involve some level of refinement and analytics. I believe that embedded Smart Business Applications that leverage artificial intelligence will be an integral part of the solution, as they provide the vital layer of “connective tissue” that can turn the raw data generated by IoT devices into actionable insights that drive value.
AI will transform the business side of IoT, with applications for every industry from automotive to healthcare and insurance. IBM Watson, Google Now, Alexa, Siri and other platforms have opened people’s eyes to the possibilities of AI, and business users want that technology applied to the tools that make them better at their jobs. Truly “smart” business applications will harness the power of AI by taking data from a myriad of connected sources and applying predictive and statistical analysis to that data to ultimately predict outcomes and deliver powerful insights that recommend and inform actions to business users, unlocking monetization possibilities.