Artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are increasingly part of our lives, even without us being always aware they are (check out our dedicated magazine for the topic’ latest news and discover how deep we already are in and find out what’s coming your way).
Even those of us who refuse to use a smartphone or having Internet access at home are part, willingly or not, of the vast connected network that is today the Internet of Everything (IoE).
Websites, social media, sensors, cameras, governmental or private services, and everything else you can think of – or not (such as your latest fridge or radiator models!) -, everything connects you to a vast network where a huge amount of data is produced in an exponentially increasing manner.
The data generated by the IoE needs to be analyzed to identify actionable insights that can be used to create better outcomes (such as processes optimization or improved customer engagement).
Without this critical step, data remains just that:
Data, raw data.
There is a huge gap between the amount of data collected and how much of it is processed.
If data collection is getting more and more optimal, the management of it is still very poor:
According to IDC, less than 1% of the world’s data is currently being analyzed!
What’s the point to collect so much data if it is not to be used?
A Cisco Advisory Services report recently remarked that most CIOs and other IT specialists don’t see much in the IoT than… data!
When asked what are the most important area to work on to implement successful IoT, 40% said ‘data’, 27% mentioned ‘processes’, 20% said ‘people’, and only 13% stated ‘things’.
Obviously, IT specialists are more concerned by implementing or developing the means to collect data and putting in place the proper processes to that end than putting the information gathered to good use:
They are overlooking the reason for the IoE to exist:
Analyzing and acting on data collected.
Companies need to learn to focus on developing the necessary skills within their workforce to analyze those data.
It will allow them to better select the ‘things’ they should be connected to and therefore increase their effectiveness.
The IoT – and therefore the IoE – is still in its infancy.
It means that it will only become more complex and more demanding with time – not in 10 years-time, but next year or the next.
An IDC report clearly identifies the issue:
In 2015, 51% of CIOs were concerned that the digital data torrent is coming faster than they can cope with, and 42% fear that they don’t have the skills required to face this future.
Gartner agrees adding that “few organizations will escape the need to connect smart objects with corporate systems and applications. Therefore, these organizations must master the new skills, tools, and architectures required by the Internet of Things.”
Companies need to understand the challenge in hands:
The world is changing, and it’s changing fast.
We wrote the exact same sentence numerous times in these columns in relation to great diversity of subjects.
In fact, our environment is changing around us, faster than it ever did since the beginning of humanity.
‘Adaptation’ is the name of the new game. Failing to adapt – for whichever reason you might want to bring forward (cultural, religious, tradition, fear of a new world…) – will eventually result in extinction; same as the great dinosaurs for which it was said for a long time that they disappeared because they couldn’t adapt to their changing environment.
Therefore, organizations must prepare their workforce for this new world:
Employees’ competencies must allow them to easily tackle IoE challenges and requirements – in-line, of course, with their own industry specifics.
The Millennial Generation grabbed the challenge:
The MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory reported that their 2013 Big Data course inaugural session attracted 3,500+ students from 88 countries!
Older generations need therefore to adapt quickly.
What’s more, companies need to understand that their IT department should not be in charge of running their IoE, beside for anything related to root architecture.
A new position needs to be widely developed:
Data Manager, when not – in bigger organizations – Chief Data Officer (CDO).
As it was wrong for many years – and unfortunately still is today in too many companies – to have the IT department overseen by Finance, it would be a mistake for the Data department to be under IT or Finance; they should be under direct top management responsibility.
Being a crucial position.
CDOs are “essentially responsible for determining how data can be used across an organization and the operational environment to drive better business outcomes.” Gartner predicts that 25% of large global organizations will have appointed CDOs by the end of 2018.
Analytics-driven insights will also drive the opportunity for significant process change and optimization:
Oftenly, these understandings will foster transformative rather than incremental changes in business and operational processes.
For example, respondents to Cisco’s survey said that IoT has the potential to fully automate up to 50% of their existing manual operational processes.
While the potential automation of nearly half of an organization’s manual processes will provide significant economic benefits, it will also eliminate many jobs — an impact already being felt across many global occupations.
According to Gartner, digital businesses will require 50% fewer business process workers by 2020.
To address this 'process automation' challenge, companies must place renewed emphasis on training and skills development.
Private and public-sector organizations must master ‘data’ and ‘process’ components of IoE to be able to manage them to their full extend.
For many businesses, it means that some existing jobs will disappear or will go through a complete transformation, while new highly skilled roles that didn’t even exist a year ago will need to be created.
These new competencies and firms’ profound restructurings will have to be developed by each industry and company.