(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business News)
A technological evolution called the Internet of Things – defined as the digital connection via the Internet of mobile devices and everyday objects – should be at the top of IT leaders’ agendas for 2017. Early adapters of IoT have seen major transformations of their businesses, as IoT helps drive operational efficiency, excellence and revenue.
One such company is a laundry delivery service in Kansas City. Before a solution implemented by Sprint, managing a fleet of vans was unwieldy for the company. Some issues included not knowing its vehicles’ locations, providing drivers with directions was cumbersome, customer feedback was difficult to gather, and measuring driver efficiency was almost nonexistent. By simply plugging a small device called an OBD II (on-board diagnostic II) into each van, these problems were eliminated. Every vehicle built and sold in the U.S. after 1996 has the port necessary for the device, according to Mohamad Nasser, general manager at Sprint’s IoT Business Unit.
“You just plug it in. It’s very easy,” Nasser said. “Anybody can do it. Even my grandma can do it.”
IoT is not exclusive to big business; small businesses should be excited, too, said Nasser. The cost of entry is extraordinarily low. The Kansas City laundry service pays about $30 dollars a month for its OBD II devices.
“IoT can transform small and medium-sized business and enterprise absolutely equally,” Nasser said. “The barrier to entry in terms of cost is low enough (for small businesses), and the sophisticated features are strong enough for enterprise.”
In addition to IoT, below are two additional tech trends IT leaders should be paying attention to this year.
Virtual and augmented reality are the hot-button topics within immersive technology, a term defined as tech that puts users into virtual environments. While VR is not fully mature and is in the early stages of its business utility, forward-thinking companies can achieve competitive advantages by expediting the exploration of the technology.
“It hasn’t quite come of age for B2B yet. Slowly, slowly it’s making its way,” Nasser said.
Some companies are using VR as a sales tool, offering customers product demos before their potential purchase. Sports teams, for example, show prospective season-ticket holders views from the seats they are considering buying.
Nasser offered Otis Elevator as an example of a company using an AR solution to make servicing its products more efficient. Codes on Otis’ hardware allow staff at the corporate office to identify problems and deploy the right resources to fix them, rather than sending a technician to trial-and-error the issue. When technicians view the codes on elevator hardware through AR goggles, they can see how to fix that particular problem.
“Diagnosing the problem using virtual or augmented reality and fixing the problem with these tools shorten the time needed to correct the problem,” Nasser said.
VR and AR are not ready, as some would claim, to take over the entire business world quite yet. It’s still cost prohibitive for some small businesses. The advice to IT shops at smaller companies in particular is to keep it on their radar.
Small businesses are often more nimble than their larger counterparts, a dynamic that makes them well-suited to capitalize on our third trend – adaptive IT.
Adaptive IT is the state of being prepared for change in our rapidly evolving technological world – the ability to punch up new solutions to accomplish a business’ moving targets.
“Today’s reality is that IT shops are being challenged dramatically to cope with this, and a lot of it has to do with old infrastructure, old design,” Nasser said. “I call it spaghetti code. The systems have been built to help support these businesses over many, many years. So people and companies are having to do a transformation of their business to get into this digital world. That’s not just an evolution, it’s more of a revolution.”
Because smaller businesses have less legacy code to wade through, they often have an advantage when it comes to adaptive IT.
“It’s easier for them to dump the old stuff and go for the new stuff,” Nasser said. “I think it can be harder for the bigger companies and large enterprises to do so because of all their legacy issues.”