IT in the internet of things: metamorphosis from enabler to USP

Michael E. Porter – the “Pope of competitive theory” – said something important at the Liveworkx15 conference in Boston: He predicted that the internet of things would change the corporate world more significantly than any previous IT development. Networked, intelligent products aren’t just reshaping industry – they’re also changing our everyday lives.

 

This is only the beginning

It’s true. Of course, the Apple watch hasn’t exactly been flying off the shelves – instead, Cupertino has had to pursue costly marketing campaigns to sell it as an “emotional product” so it doesn’t become another flop by the lifestyle brand. But smart homes, fitness bracelets, and smartphone apps are already common. Video and sound systems stream your music collection, but also integrate streaming services and ways to purchase – just a little foretaste of all that is to come.

 

Gartner: soon, we’ll have 30x as many devices as people

Gartner believes that within just five years, the number of smart devices with internet access will rise to 212 billion. According to the UN, the global population will be 7.72 billion people by that time. This means that in five years, each person will own almost 28 devices. Cisco estimates the market potential of this increase at more than 14 trillion dollars.

 

IT needs to process external and internal data

The challenge? All of these devices are going to unleash a flow of data on businesses that’s as immense as it is unstructured. A flow of data that will need to be combined with existing, structured data like client databases and customer histories, then processed, evaluated, and saved. ERP systems will have to do all of this, practically in real time. Background processes need to be automated, and created documents and data have to be archived according to legal and security requirements. Developers worldwide are working on how to achieve these goals. It’s good that all of this is occurring as a process. More of an evolution than a revolution. That gives companies time to develop the IT step by step.

 

From IT to USP

But there is one aspect that’s already taken effect: in the future, a company’s IT profile will play a large part in determining how customers view the business. It will enable companies to tailor products ever more closely to customer needs, eventually becoming an important USP for a product.