IoT operators and makers

As a continuation of the Internal of Things discussion yesterday, our second key idea I’d like to discuss is that there are two basic groups of IoT use cases. One is centered around enterprises and entrepreneurs looking to invent new IoT products or services, and the other focused on those looking to optimize their operations. And the truth is that many of our clients, the businesses who stand to gain or lose the most based on their IoT strategy, represent both roles. They are inventors, and they are operators as well.

Let’s say you’re looking to invent new IoT offerings. You must invent and innovate and improve products with interconnections in mind. Think about the type of data those products are generating or are capable of generating.

What new connections are you making, and how will you capitalize on those connections? How will you use the data? What insights are you able to uncover, and how will you leverage them to do what you do better? What new capabilities will the data enable?

There’s a new app, one of the winners of our SportsHack Challenge this year at Impact, that is capable of mapping crime data to create safe run routes, allowing runners to determine where the safest nearby areas are to run, anywhere in the world. Clever stuff.

And to be clear, all innovations or inventions are not focused on an app or product or service itself. Some of the better, more significant innovations over the last few years are focused on evolving or transforming the way people interact with those things. Or on how products and services interact with other devices or organizations.

An example is how Yarra Trams is using IBM big data, mobile, analytics and cloud technology to improve service reliability and get passengers where they need to be, faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Or maybe you are focused on optimizing your operations, bringing things together to create new value. Doesn’t matter if it’s a global supply chain, a production line, a fleet of rental cars or a server farm. And the irony is that today, a fleet of cars actually isn’t that different from a server farm—just on wheels.

Being an operator is about creating the system using technology from multiple vendors and then analyzing, synthesizing and optimizing, fighting to make it work better, more seamlessly, more fluidly.

The new connected car IBM will be working on with Toyota is an excellent example, where these guys are transforming everyday vehicles to gather all sorts of data that can adjust the suspension to accommodate road conditions, send drivers text alerts in real time about inclement weather and so much more.

As an example, we (IBM) helped the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC WASA) integrate advanced analytics with asset management software to reduce downtime with predictive maintenance on its aging infrastructure. DC WASA instrumented thousands of water meters with automated meter reading technology that enables the Authority to use data to create a deeper understanding of usage patterns to provide citizens with more sophisticated pricing and demand response options.

Or maybe you’re both an inventor and an operator.

The point is simply that it’s important to understand the primary IoT use cases, and it’s also important that you know exactly how you or your clients fit into those use cases to build the right strategy for optimizing the IoT.

Tomorrow I will discuss the level of relationship and hierarchy around technology. But really, this point is less about prioritization and more about understanding how the pieces of your infrastructure puzzle fit together to bring you the best big picture the IoT has to offer.  The IoT is the next concentric circle around the cloud. And of course, it is populated by things. But it’s also populated with people.