The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Will the Internet of Things turn all CEOs into CIOs?

 

CEO.pngSince the CIO's role is focused on generating business value out of information securely and reliably, and now an ever increasing percentage of our enterprise environment will be collaborating in that goal – the CEO’s dependence and need to manage the use of information will increase.

 

IoT means sensitive information, can be derived leading to information about enterprise operation details and personal data crossing from secure networks to devices and third party services. The risk and the benefit are far different than what traditional CIOs have had to address. The CEO will need to understand (at least at some level) the rapidly changing world of security and information consumption and the implications of IoT – even if it is just to make sure that the delegated business and IT responsibilities are being addressed effectively.

 

Some view that IoT hype has peaked. If that is the case, it would only be because organizations have internalized the change, but I doubt that. I think we have a long way to go before the possibilities are even well understood, let alone embraced and incorporated to generate value outside the initial deployment silos.

Leaders need to ask two questions:

  • So what? – find out the perspective of business value for the effort
  • Is that all? – see if the teams are thinking broadly enough about where and how the information can be used. There seems to be a great deal of potential being left on the table.

 

IoT model update from the one I used 4 years back...

Back about four years ago, I used a model to think about machine-to-machine (M2) from a holistic perspective. Today, this would be viewed more through an Internet of Things (IoT) lens. In talking with some others last week, it seemed that the simple progressing from sensors all the way through action is still valid but may need to be expanded a bit.

Internet of things model.png

 

In really starts with the ‘thing’ that has been tagged (and its sensors and controllers). There is also a supporting device management layer that adds security, power management and other fleet management features. I didn't really show that the first time.

 

Data collection continues to have integration capabilities but the analytics layer needs to add more context and pattern recognition than just traditional analytics. There is an automation layer that rides on top that performs a number of the action oriented features.

 

I didn’t really think about the management layer that is inherent in the approach, even though some functions may only be useful for a subset of the environment. A pluggable set of standards is needed to minimize the complexity.

 

The Internet of Things will require a significant degree of autonomous control. It can’t be as needy as the tools we’re using today – crying out for our attention all the time.

 

Where did the IoT come from?

I was talking with some folks about the Internet of Things the other day and they showed me some analysis that made it look like it was relatively recent.

 

where did the IoT come from.jpg

 

My view is that its foundations go back a long way. I worked on (SCADA) Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems back in the 80s, which were gathering data off the factory floor, analyzing it and performing predictive analytics, even way back then.


In the 70s, passive RFID came into being and one of the first places it was used was tracking cows for the department of agriculture to ensure they were given the right dosage of medicine and hormones – since cows could talk for themselves.

 

In the late 70s and early 80s barcodes become widely used to identify objects, allowing greater tracking of manufacturing lines as well as consumers in stores.

 

In the 90s, higher speed and greater range allowed for toll tags to be placed on cars, allowing for greater ease of identification but still very little use of sensors to collect additional information.

 

At the turn of the century, the military and Walmart required the use of RFID to track products and that caused significant increase in their adoption. About the same time, low powered sensing capabilities were developed since RFID only provided identification and the scanner provided location, people began to look at other information that could be collected like temperature, humidity as well as ways to gather information remotely like smart metering in the utilities space (although even that started much earlier).

 

Most technology adoption follows an S curve for investment and value generation. We’re just now entering the steep part of the S curve where the real business models and excitement is generated. It is not really all that new it is just that the capabilities have caught up with demand and that is making us think about everything differently (and proactively).

IoT and IT’s ability to foresee unintended consequences

Internet of things.pngI was recently talking with someone about an Internet of Things study that is coming out and it really made me wonder. HP has been doing work in the IoT for decades and gets relatively little credit for the efforts. In fact where I started work back in the 80s was writing statistical analysis tools for plant floor (SCADA) data collection – essentially the high value, big data space of its time, back when a 1 MIPS minicomputer was a high $$ investment.

 

The issues we deal with today are a far cry from that era, now we’re as likely to analysis data in the field about well head performance or robotics but many of the fundamentals remain the same. I’ve mentioned the issue of passive oversharing in the past, and addressing that issue needs to be at the foundation of today’s IoT efforts as well as value optimization issues.

 

I was in a discussion about vehicle to vehicle communications requirements a few months back and the whole issue of privacy looms much larger than the first thoughts of preventing accidents. I think everyone would agree that putting on the breaks by those vehicles affected is a good idea. Should the stop lights recognize bad behavior and visually send a signal to other drivers? There are a wide range of innovations possible with a network like this.

 

There are also negative possibilities to be considered:

  • Is passing along this driver performance to the police a good idea? What about insurance companies?
  • What about just that fact that your car knows it is speeding, is that something that others should know?
  • Or the information about where you’re driving to, now that your car is sharing this information with other cars and infrastructure (cell phones already do this by the way).
  • What if a driver can ‘socially engineer’ the limits of the system to maximize the performance for them. An example of this might be if you were to push the system so that yellow lights would stay yellow a bit longer because you’re accelerating into the intersection – is that OK?

Some unintended consciences are going to happen. We should be able to see many of them coming, if we think creatively. IT organizations will need to develop their implication assessment skills, for their social as well as business effects. The IT team should have better comprehension of the analysis and data sharing that has happened elsewhere and the implications, regardless of the business or industry and be able to advise accordingly. They need to reach out early and often.

Does personal accountability need to shift in business?

security.pngAs business and IT continues to merge, we need to increase the vigilance and expectations of everyone. A recent article titled: Treat IT architecture as a weapon talks about how the US military should start to treat the network and IT resources in general as weapons systems. The same can be said on the commercial side of business.

 

As we move to a world with high-powered analytics, and deep, data-based understanding enabled by the IoT, the models, architectures and assets need to be viewed as the serious differentiator for the business they actually are. When the network is breached, a root cause analysis needs to be performed and individuals held accountable. The responses of “I didn’t know…” or “I am not in IT…” need to be a thing of the past.

 

In our personal lives, we know we have responsibilities for our data usage and access. We need at least that same level of accountability in our work lives as well. We all need to be vigilant and help each other understand the implications of our actions. Security awareness needs to permeate the work environment – it is not just someone else’s concern.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation