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By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP

Coverage on the Internet of Things (IoT) is inescapable. And along with this hype rollercoaster comes new ideas. While this all may sound like a fad, it’s hard to deny that IoT and other forms of digital transformation are happening at warp speed all around us. Amidst the ashes of former leaders of a bygone era, we are entering a brave new world of digital transformation. Companies that don’t make this transition assume the risk of joining a library of logos we no longer recognize.   I shared that recently with some “ah-ha” moments from IDC Directions 2016 and the theme came up again when we focused specifically on IoT for our latest webcast.

But how can you take advantage of the IoT if you do not know what it is? In her article “How to Rewire the Organization for the Internet of Things,” my colleague Polly Traylor provided a solid definition of the IoT and its link to hyperconnectivity:

“Hyperconnectivity, the concept synonymous with the Internet of Things (IoT), is the emerging face of IT in which applications, machine-based sensors, and high-speed networks merge to create constantly updated streams of data. Hyperconnectivity can enable new business processes and services and help companies make better day-to-day decisions.”

To dig deeper into the emerging face of IT and the impact of IoT across entire organizations and industries, I hosted several thought leaders in part two of our SAP Digital Business Services Thought Leadership Webcast series, “Unlocking the Potential from the Internet of Things.” As a follow-up to our Webcast Transforming Digital Visions into Reality on planning for digital transformation, this event featured thought-provoking discussion from subject-matter experts who are in the middle the IoT revolution:

  • John Madden, global practice lead – IT Services, Ovum
  • David Sweetman, senior director of the IoT – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP
  • Tom Kurtz, global vice president of IoT, SAP

Through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole

I’ve recently equated the digital transformation as journey akin to “Alice in Wonderland.” Any road will get you there if you don’t have a clue of where you're going – but you may not like where you end up.

When John Madden shared an overall road map for such change, I was thrilled! It’s six steps that collapse down into three fundamental steps. John eluded to Ovum’s new white paper “Connecting Platforms, Applications, and Services for the Digital Economy,” citing that a majority of CEOs prefer a holistic, cloud-based approach to the IoT – rather than a separate platform, application, and services. As a veteran of disintegration during 2nd Platform eras of client servers and early Internet computing, I realized that we have certainly come full circle. Extraordinary creativity is generating innovative thinking, and technology is keeping pace.

Top 3 concerns about implementing IoT strategy

David Sweetman continued the conversation by sharing some great views on the changing role of applications, platform, consulting and service organizations, reinforcing both the need for a roadmap as well as critical change management within and between organizations. However, this doesn’t mean that every CIO’s concerns are answered.

In fact, David cited three common areas that are still keeping these executives up at night:

  1. Sustainable reliance on connected systems, such as preventative and proactive maintenance with continuous sensing for aircraft and train transformation systems
  2. Security of data and devices as well as compliance with privacy and security regulations – especially as they consider private and public cloud solutions
  3. Support as infrastructure operating models change, necessitating proactive support with growing amounts of data, transactions, and more in a world of hyperconnectivity

Crossing the chasm from project-centric to continuous, rapid innovation

Tom Kurtz wrapped up the discussion by pointing out the core components needed to apply new technology, such as the IoT, to move from a project-based approach to continuous, rapid innovation.

  1. Senior sponsorship – Often overlooked or not given adequate priority, this level of commitment is a critical aspect of change management of any kind.
  2. Culture of innovation – Embedding innovation into the DNA of an organization can help employees embrace change management and innovation across all areas of the business by using IT as a catalyst and driver of change.
  3. Transitioning from “innovation freedom” to “continuous innovation” – Choosing between performing core activities and creating new opportunities can be a struggle. And while this may seem like too much freedom at first, it can help the workforce develop new ways of work that are more efficient and congruent with digital thinking.

More “ah-ha” moments are coming your way

This was indeed another insightful SAP Digital Business Services Thought Leadership Webcast! We’re going to take a break while we bring the SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 conference to fruition. If you are in the Orlando area in mid-May, stop by the event and visit the SAP Digital Business Services team. I will be providing a mix of “social media ambassador” and thought leadership coverage from the event “live” in Orlando.

We’ll be back on June 9th with our third and final Webcast in our Digital Business Transformation series – “The Future of Support in an Era of Cloud & the Internet of Things (IoT).” This event will feature several thought leaders and subject-matter experts:

  • Elaina Stergiades, research manager – Software and Hardware Support Services, IDC
  • Michael Rieder, senior vice president and head of Enterprise Support & Premium Engagement – Digital Business Services, SAP
  • Sei Drake, co-engineering architect – Digital Business Services, SAP

And don’t forget to check out the latest research and white paper from Ovum “Connecting Platforms, Applications, and Services for the Digital Economy” and “From Hype to Reality to Ubiquity: A Digitalist Executive Q&A on the Internet of Things.”  I hope you enjoy coming up with your own “ah-ha moments!”

Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

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