For decades organisations have had machines connected to networks, for instance in mining and manufacturing as well as other sectors, which through automation continue to streamline processes and outputs.
Parallel to this, we have seen significant advances in consumer technology since the advent of the Internet. However, we are now on the brink of having not only people, but machines and business networks all connected to the Internet and each other in the next big defining wave of technology transformation – the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT is set to revolutionise society and business in much the same way as the arrival of the Internet. In fact, according to our 2015 Global Technology Innovation survey*, 10 percent of the technology business leaders surveyed for EMEA revealed that IoT leaped past several other technologies to join Cloud and mobile as the most impactful business transformation drivers.
Jumping on the bandwagon
There is a definite inevitability to IoT adoption, as the technology is advancing rapidly, and I believe it’s a matter of time before all businesses will be impacted by this trend. Technology companies will of course be at the forefront of this trend, though the effects will first be visible in business-to-consumer (B2C) organisations, as consumers generally adopt new technologies quickly, so organisations that serve them will have to keep up. But, other B2C sectors like retail, as well as business-to-business (B2B) organisations will need to catch up quickly if they are going to remain relevant and competitive – as well as reap the benefits that can be gained from this adoption.
Adoption underpinned by protection, value and veracity
As with any technology that can have a transformative impact on business, it is possible to be too hasty in adopting the IoT before the organisation is ready. By the nature of IoT, everything needs to be connected to the Internet, which requires having connectivity in place. With this, however, key consideration needs to be given to privacy of the organisations data and protecting this data against abuse or cyber threats.
While privacy and cyber security will certainly take precedence as concerns for most organisations looking to adopt to the IoT trend, the importance of quality data and the management of this cannot be overstated. The number of sensors or connected touch points to the IoT will proliferate and rapidly, as these are being fed into the cloud by people and organisations, alike. By doing so, our society is creating more and more data, as well as an opportunity for this data to be used in a positive way, or even have the ability to transform the organisation.
However, it is crucially important that this data can be read in context and integrated with the organisation’s existing data, where appropriate, so as to gain more accurate Big Data. This will be the cornerstone of undertaking accurate and valuable analysis, as ultimately the effectiveness of Big Data depends on the value that the organisation is trying to unlock, as well as how ‘true’ the data is from an integrity and security perspective.
While not all the technology is in place in Africa just yet, the signs are clear, the IoT is on its way. And the number of available data sources will start multiplying exponentially with the proliferation of the IoT, which means there is even more reason to get the organisation’s data management processes right before the organisation is flooded with more data. The very nature of business going forward will depend on this.
By Frank Rizzo, Data & Analytics Lead at KPMG