The Real Promise of Enterprise IoT

These are exciting times in the world of enterprise technology. Or more accurately, these are still exciting times, because for several decades now, software and the internet have been changing not just how companies do business, but what business they are in, and in some cases whether they are in business at all.

The current wave has been called many things. Steve Case called it the Third Wave (great book, by the way); Geoffrey Moore, Satya Nadella and others are calling it System of Intelligence. I don’t care for the IoT moniker (like “big data,” it is too broad and frothy to be useful), but it’s good shorthand. Technically, it’s a combination of distributed systems, internet connectivity, data and analytics. Organizationally, it is at the intersection of IT and the business unit, and for many of our customers it’s the first time that information technologies have been embedded in the company’s products and services.

I find this commercial transformation to be the most interesting aspect of this enormous shift. Multi-billion dollar organizations are fundamentally changing the value they deliver to their customers. They are not just changing their product (although that is required); they’re not only connecting their Things (also required) or gathering data or adding analytics to their enterprise or… any of the myriad technical and business process changes needed to make their System of Intelligence real in the world.

At the root of the SaaS revolution was the idea that customers don’t want to own software, they want a CRM or a cloud-based file storage system or an enterprise communication solution: a solution to optimize their internal business processes. Propelling the IoT wave is the idea that Thingmakers’ customers don’t want to own Things; they don’t want to own filters & pumps, but rather purchase fluid management as a service; they don’t want to own a blood bag machine, but rather subscribe to plasma collection solutions. In short, the end customer wants to focus on their core business itself, rather than on the logistics required to enable that business.

This is the real promise of IoT. And it is a radically different promise: it is an external promise, a promise that echoes all the way to the end consumer, a promise to deliver benefits along the entire value chain. Thingmakers who embrace IoT become embedded in their customers’ value propositions, creating durable relationships based on value delivered. That is a revolution.

However, if IoT is a wave, the industry is still paddling out to catch it. Connecting the Things, modeling the data, integrating with existing enterprise systems of record, ensuring security and scalability… these are still the primary challenges the industry is solving today as we build these Systems of Intelligence. Harvesting the gathered intelligence, and determining what that means at the human level, are for most IoT projects still to come.

I recently joined Bright Wolf, an enterprise IoT solutions company. Bright Wolf has been building, deploying, and supporting distributed connected enterprise IoT systems for Fortune 1000 clients since 2009. I am incredibly excited to be joining full time, after being an advisor for almost three years through incredible growth and impact on customers. Bright Wolf is doing our part to make sure that enterprise IoT projects become true Systems of Intelligence that enable our customers to transform the business they are in, so their end customers can in turn focus on their business.

We’d love to share our experiences and hear what challenges you or others may be facing; reach out if you’d like to talk. We’ll also be keeping up a steady stream of insights and lessons learned at http://52.4.141.11/blog.

You can follow us @bright_wolf, or on LinkedIn. And you can find me @prbourne or peter@brightwolf.com.

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