The internet of things, the evolution of data management, and new market opportunities

September 15, 2014 by Olivier Blanchard - 1 Comment

I was tempted to include this post in our The CMO and The Cloud series, but as this touches on more than what the CMO does, let’s keep it adjacent but separate. Nothing super complex today. I am working on a few deep dives into social business integration pieces and bizdev/CMO posts involving ops and technology, but with 2015 just around the corner – with its budgets, strategies and planning starting to become bigger items going into Q4 – our time together might be better spent on broad strokes and forward thinking than complex how-to posts.

Today, let’s take a look at an infographic I just found. Think of this as a simple bizdev macro (courtesy of Gartner Research, Forrester Research and Wipro).

What you will notice at the top of the image is a simple scenario that puts technology in a simple day-to-day context. There are thousands upon thousands of applications just like the handful examples used here, and at the center of every single one is data. That data needs to be collected, secured, stored, analyzed, transmitted, protected, accessed, and so on. This requires a pretty complex IT infrastructure that, thanks to the cloud, doesn’t have to live inside your office anymore. The capital investment doesn’t have to be yours. The platforms, the network and all of the resources required to move into new competitive products and services are there already. It isn’t about investments anymore. It’s about context and operational architecture. The technology partnerships are actually the easy part.


What comes next is the market opportunity. We’ve all been hearing about the internet of things. Buzzwords aside, this is the interface layer of the networked ecosystem: the layer we see and interact with: our smart phones and tablets. Our cars, our homes and appliances, our fitness sensors. Our ovens and even our clothes. If you haven’t yet given much thought to the speed with which the market for wearable tech is growing, spend an hour this week researching it. (And I don’t just mean watches.) From gadgety fitness wearables and medical devices to emergency first responder tech and RFID chips in everyday products, our relationship with data – at work, at home, in our cars, at the beach, on the trail, and so on – is changing. Fast. The amount of data collected, transmitted, stored and mined is only going to increase. Case in point: in just five years, there will be 7x more objects connected to the web than there are human beings.

Think about that: there will soon be seven internet-active devices for every single person on Earth. Between now and then, in 2016, it is expected that wearable tech will already generate $10B in revenue. Business analytics software revenues will reach $50B. Cloud services, which support most of this growth, will see revenues soar to over $200B. (Economies of scale are good, by the way.) Some products will be fads, but the trend towards data becoming an integral part of… everything is not a fad. That’s the solid underpinning of our economic, technological and cultural evolution. That’s the thread pulling it all forward, and the companies doing the pulling will be tomorrow’s winners. Devices are means to and end. It’s what they do that matters. And what they do is powered by data and networks that any company with an idea can leverage at will and without having to spend massive amounts of capital on complex IT infrastructures.

Now back all of this into your business. How will your strategy be impacted by this shift towards ubiquitous apps, connectivity and data use? How do you plan to leverage technology in regards to marketing and business development? Sales and customer retention? Customer support and product development? Marketing and business analytics? Creating memorable retail experiences? Market research? Customer outreach? Loyalty programs? Customizable experiences? Mobile commerce? What are the real opportunities here? How could all of this help solve existing problems, fill operational gaps, or simply help drive your business forward? How do you plan on putting it all together? And if you are a small company, how could you use new tech to scale in a cost-effective way? (Because… that you can do that now, regardless of size, is half the point of this post.)

If your strategic planning doesn’t yet have a big data/technology/cloud component in support of key business functions and product offerings, it is high time to change that.



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This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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