The Internet of Everything & 4 Measures to Master your Mobile Future
Nowadays we corporate people think of mobile as field engineers performing their jobs, or white collar workers using a tablet or smartphone to perform office productivity tasks. Well, do I have news for you: THIS IS NOT ENOUGH!
Our mobile world will be transforming the way we behave, the way we work, and the way we interact with nearly everything that surrounds us. Everything you say? Yes: Everything!
The virtual world squeezes itself in between us and our environment
Only recently, we used to shop in a physical shop, see products in real life, talk to friends face-to-face or turn down the thermostat by physically touching it. Today however, there is a virtual layer between ourselves and the shops, the products, the friends or the thermostat. They can all be controlled via the internet or app-internet. Even while sitting next to each other, we still use apps to communicate.
However, this virtual layer creates a level of comfort, of easiness and richness of expression - like photographs, video, music, voice, design and drawings - that is easily accepted as reality's interface.
In doing so, it is easy to forget to check which reality there is behind the virtual layer. Can we trust the store we are making the purchase from online? Or can we trust the thermostat at home and accompanying app that it works with? Did we really check if there are no flaws or hidden schemes in the programming?
The virtual world no longer stops at the screen of your mobile phone
With companies like Motorola launching a wearable headset computer, Wearable Experiments launching a navigation jacket, Google filing a patent for a "lie detector tattoo", Interaxon selling a brainwave input device and people using iPads to communicate with implanted biosensors, mobile will eventually even be found in and around our bodies.
All this is bound to happen in the next 15 - 20 years, during another Schumpeter wave of innovation. Enormous economic activity around all the technological innovations that are happening today and in years to come will drastically reform our future. It will also reshape the landscape of "winners" and "losers" in business: new startups will be tomorrows moguls. As an example, the wearable tech industry is growing at around 300% per year, so buy your shares today!
All devices interconnect
In the French city of Nice, electric cars can be guided to an available charging station using an app. In Korea, Samsung presented a refrigerator with two connection ports: one WiFi for private use and one Ethernet to be used when "the Government is ready to install the Smart Grid". It is very possible that such a fridge could send our navigation jacket to the grocery store to pick up some milk or make us aware of the fact that the house has been "powered down" due to an energy shortage. This will lead to the "Internet of Everything" with YOU as the ultimate User Interface.
In order to run some business processes on top of this enormous amount of interconnected data, protocols and devices will benefit from the very fast market developments, without the downturn of being hit by crime that is also moving to the virtual world. However, it will be important to master four skills:
1. Separate systems of engagement from systems of record
You simply cannot keep up with market developments, especially regarding user-facing applications, even for business purposes. So why not use the speed of the market and concentrate on your "back-end book keeping" and the interfaces that connect you to whatever system the market has invented.
With the increase in all types of devices, data and protocols, we also see an increase in the number of business partners in our total value chains. We thus need to be able to interact with all this variety while still making sure that our "book keeping records" are up-to-date and correct.
3. Be resilient
With so many interconnected devices and information, security incidents WILL happen. From a budgetary point of view though, you simply cannot control everything that is happening within your value chains. You should make sure that you can accommodate minor breaches instead of trying to avoid them and concentrate on major potential incidents.
4. Stay out of lock-in games
As the market's attention is everywhere, traditional ERP/CRM (etcetera) players will have a harder time selling more of their products. Lock-in games are the answer such as SAP in a box (HANA) or EMC Greenplum storage. Make sure your orchestration layer (typically all sorts of middleware products) cannot be hijacked for their profitability goals; keep it as vendor agnostic as possible
Mobile will be completely redefined over the next 15 - 20 years, and will connect all sorts of devices, or even body functions and business processes through the same virtual layer. This will highly complicate our organisational lives. To stay out of trouble, we have to focus on our primary "recording systems"; be able to orchestrate over different business partners, protocols, data types and devices; be resilient against security incidents and stay out of vendor lock-in.
This article was written by Michel de Goede, Strategy Consultant and Enterprise Architect at Alliander.