Gartner’s technology predictions state that 2018 will be the year in which intelligent things proliferate, driving a shift from stand-alone things to a swarm of collaborative intelligent things, with the focus moving away from the sensors themselves, and toward integrated platforms that will turn these huge volumes of data into actionable intelligence for data-rich business models.
As these swarms of chattering smart devices share increasing volumes of distributed data amongst themselves, and back to the enterprise, the challenges around these areas – including integration and analytics – will become exponentially more complex.
Business looking to harness the power of IoT should first define the business outcome that they want to achieve with the technology – is it aimed at reducing cost, or increasing productivity or driving new revenue, or does it form part of a broader digital transformation initiative – which then provides them with measurable objectives.
Companies need to think beyond just devices and connectivity, and interrogate how they can use the data coming from all those devices to automate certain workflows and drive new business value. Without this critical thinking up front, such initiatives are bound for failure.
Broader integration, powerful analytics
A key enabler here is the integration of technologies from across business processes so that many areas – such as enterprise resource planning, sales, supply chain and customer service systems – can seamlessly interact in real time.
Through platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) offerings, companies have a greater ability to integrate cloud and on-premise applications, connect applications through integrated data streams, and add functionality and services to applications. This provides greater visibility and enables KPIs that involve multiple areas, including improving customer satisfaction.
Cloud-mature companies have greater capacity for data analytics and to experiment with different data models, in addition to improved automation and visualisation, based on machine learning. It also helps improve capability with non-relational data, with research suggesting that the more mature an organisation’s cloud implementation, the greater the potential to gain insight from its data.
A growing trend is for organisations to create digital twins of their assets, with IoT – on machinery, for example – providing real-time data, to proactively repair and plan for equipment service, plan manufacturing processes, operate factories, predict equipment failure, increase operational efficiency, and perform enhanced product development.
AI, autonomous operations to improve security
From the endpoint devices to the network to applications, the potential for security vulnerabilities are concerning and will continue even as systems are updated and patched. According to Gartner, traditional security techniques using ownership and control rather than trust will not work in the digital world.
Traditional IT involves putting together different architectures from multiple vendors, and creating environments that are both complex and prone to error. Modern IT, on the other hand, usually involves cloud built on a single architecture by a single vendor, and backed by robust process controls.
Today’s enterprise databases include features to provide in-depth defence for the organisation’s most valuable and sensitive data, but only if these capabilities are used. There is now a growing interest in autonomous databases that self-patch, reducing the chance of human error and further cutting down on risk.
Going further, autonomous operations will be able to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to proactively monitor for anomalies, anticipate outcomes, take remedial action, and be aware of risks in real-time. It is predicted that by 2025, 80% of cloud operations risk will vanish entirely, and a higher degree of intelligent automation will permeate the cloud platform.
Forrester predicts that businesses that use AI, big data and IoT to uncover new business insights “will steal $1.2 trillion per annum from their less informed peers by 2020″. Today’s companies no longer compete just with local businesses, but with global or smaller, more niche players in their industries, or even from outside their business. No company can afford to ignore the full potential of IoT, when combined with cloud.
By Craig Nel, Cloud Platform Leader – Mobile, BOTs and AI at Oracle Middle East, Africa and Turkey