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August 13, 2015

What CEOs need to make a smart IoT business model

Building your company’s IoT strategy? CBR asks the experts to offer five key steps.

By Joao Lima

The internet of things is not a theory anymore. It is happening today and it is changing how businesses function.

Ben Parker, CTO at Guavus, told CBR: "Successful IoT projects are inextricably linked with positive business outcomes. It requires a lot of organisational change to effectively align the two and this has to be managed at the C-suite level as a lot of processes and practices will need to be adapted.

"The reason C-suite executives are best placed to oversee these transformations and how they can help the business as a whole is because they have visibility of the whole company."

CBR lists five main things CEOs need to consider when adopting an IoT strategy.

1. Understand the IoT impact

Before stepping into the IoT spectrum, it is important that businesses understand how this will both impact their own business and their customers’ businesses. Organisations should look into what they currently offer and comprehend how IoT can improve their solutions.

IoT allows organisations to make better and faster decisions, according to Kony. When data is correctly interpreted this will also give companies increased awareness of what is happening around them.

In the product-as-a-service (PaaS) market, understanding the impact of IoT on consumers will generate higher margins than the ones seen by companies selling physical products alone, according to ChainLink Research.

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Dr Mark Darbyshire, CTA at SAP UKI, told CBR: "C-suite executives must quickly build an understanding of the impact IoT has on their business and more importantly on their customers’ businesses. Only then can they begin to lead the charge to make the changes required that enable the benefits to be felt."

2. Cloud

Cloud computing is the backbone of the connected world being an array of networked computers that allows anyone to offload processing tasks or storage from their embedded system, according to Micrium. Any company attempting to enter the IoT space must have a backend service as a core competency.

Either opting for a cloud provider or building their own cloud infrastructure, companies will have to be able to have in place a scalable platform that allows them to quickly develop and integrate IoT solutions.

In March, a Frost & Sullivan study looked at the chance of organisations creating a common cloud infrastructure with an unified application programming interface for all application sectors.

Darbyshire added: "IoT implementations require changes that are deeper than simply investing in the technology. They require new operational structures, new skills and new models to drive real value and explore fresh revenue streams.

"To take advantage of these opportunities, it is vital that C-suite executives have the ability to see ‘one source of the truth’. A scalable in-cloud database that includes streaming capabilities will enable this."

3. Security & Response

Responding to customer’s needs almost in real time will be the key to a successful IoT business. Devices and machines will be connected all the time, collecting data and giving companies the opportunity to update software and respond to an emergency, even before it happens with predictive analytics.

During Black Hat US 2015, Joe Caruso, head of Global Digital Forensics (GDF), said that the difference between survival and total demise of businesses developing IoT solutions will all come down to how an organisation responds.

A wide-ranging response will have a particular importance in the security space, as companies will have to protect their IPs, customer data and operational infrastructures, according to Capgemini.

Olivier Hersent, CEO at Actility, told CBR: "The key security element on an IoT network is the ability to guarantee the confidentiality and integrity of application-specific data. Another fundamental point is being able to dynamically provision and authenticate devices and support roaming scenarios."

4. Software

Software, either an OS or applications, is what allows the devices and machines to work, interact and extract data. For example, Intel’s IoT Platform has two running pieces of software: one to collect data, the other to send data.

At Interop London 2015, Phil Smith, Cisco UK&I CEO, told the audience that businesses’ survival will come down to their ability to digitalise and that every company will be a software company in an IoT ecosystem.

Steve Schmidt, VP of Corporate Development at Flexera Software told CBR that for example, hardware manufacturers increasingly have little choice but to move away from inactive objects and transform their products into internet-connected, software driven intelligent devices.

In 2011, Marc Andressen, co-founder of browser company Netscape, told the WSJ that the move to software is because the technology required to transform industries through software "finally works" and can be widely delivered at global scale.

Mark Coggin, senior director at Red Hat, told CBR: "All members of the C-suite need to use IoT as a means of moving their firms into the forefront of becoming an agile, software-based, data-driven, cloud-delivered business. Not embracing this means running the risk of irrelevance."

5. Collaboration

The concept behind IoT is to create one big seamless system that allows interaction and smarter decisions. To create this environment, organisations will need to sit together and that should be part of an IoT strategy, according to Concentra.

These collaborations in the IoT space are being done by several companies, to reach common standards that will foster the development of IoT.

An example of partnerships in the IoT space is the smart car sector. Automakers like Tesla, Audi or Google all have partnerships currently in place that have allowed them to tailor their own solutions and make improvements to their developments.

Nick Finch, director at Concentra, told CBR: "[C-suite executives] must invest the time to understand the space and identify what improvements, areas for innovation, products and services are possible within their organisation.

"This is only possible with collaboration, collaboration not only with the technology experts but also with industry, including competing organisations in many cases."

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