Your customers are hearing a lot about digital transformation. Indeed, they may feel like they are being bombarded with information about how one technology or another is the true path to digital transformation--or, as we like to call it, a digital “upgrade.” Your customers are seeking the truth, and partners are in a perfect position to help customers understand that digital transformation isn’t a destination; rather, it’s a journey that requires strategic and ongoing synthesis of products, platforms, processes and people.
To help customers not only leverage these transformational technologies but also accelerate ROI, partners must think in terms of a pathway. When it comes to IoT, for example, organizations must consider the internet-connected devices themselves (and ways to tame their complexity), as well as the analytics and machine learning required to make meaning of the data collected from those devices. Organizations also need a system for ensuring the security and privacy of that data.
That security system is increasingly blockchain. Intelligent things and blockchain are among the top 10 strategic technology trends that will impact most organizations in 2018, according to Gartner. IDC estimates that by 2019, with increasing adoption of IoT across industries, 20 percent of all IoT deployments will have basic levels of blockchain services enabled.
Partners must help customers understand the value of emerging technologies and the ways in which they can and should be integrated into existing workflows. As thought leaders in these areas, partners can also put into context the critical importance of the cloud in providing equal and achievable access to these technologies for companies of all sizes.
Here’s what you—and your customers—need to know about some of the technologies that are making a big difference today:
Gartner defines the internet of things, or IoT, as “the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.”
IoT has been growing on us, in more ways than one, in the form of smart thermostats and wearable health trackers, among many other, er, things. But a 2016 Forrester whitepaper noted an important shift in the direction of the internet of things—from consumer-focused to enterprise applications.
“There is an increasing focus on the use of IoT in the enterprise realm as a driver of growth and transformation across a wide swath of industries,” states the Forrester paper. “Manufacturers are using IoT to monitor their equipment and optimize their scheduling of predictive and preventive maintenance. Transportation companies are using IoT to capture and analyze fleet usage and driver performance to transform their fleet management practices. Retailers are using IoT to deliver personalized apparel recommendations to their customers. That's just scratching the surface.”
This shift is a result of the maturation of IoT-enabling technologies, such as cloud and mobile, but also of IoT-optimizing technologies such as analytics, machine learning and AI.
- IoT Analytics
Ted Friedman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, predicted at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit that one-third of IoT solutions will be abandoned before they are ever deployed. The roadblock, according to Friedman, is a lack of data management and analytics capabilities adapted for IoT.
“Many existing data and analytics capabilities can be applied to IoT initiatives and IoT data, but organizations also need to modernize in several key areas,” said Friedman.
The cloud is key to this modernization, as it will enable faster innovation of new services and business models, provide a manageable cost structure, and provide all organizations equal access to the same capabilities.
According to the Harvard Business Review, blockchain “is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically.” Put another way, blockchain maintains information in a way that allows organizations that might not fully trust each other to agree on updates. Blockchain uses peer-to-peer protocols rather than a central third party or an offline reconciliation process, and, as a distributed ledger, blockchain provides a near real-time and indelible record that’s replicated among the participants. Among many other things, blockchain can help companies:
- Avoid the costs of intermediaries while enabling trust in peer-to-peer B2B transactions
- Reduce manual, error-prone information exchange and processes across enterprise boundaries
- Avoid the cost and delays of offline reconciliations
- Reduce cross-ERP discrepancies resulting in settlement risk and poor records
- Decrease the cost and high risk of fraud from cross-company transactions
- Improve real-time information visibility within a trading ecosystem
If you are thinking that blockchain sounds like an almost perfect complement to IoT, you would be right—and your customers would benefit. And one of the most understandable use cases is supply chain.
“Blockchain is a system for maintaining distributed ledgers where the characteristics of traceability, auditability, and collaboration in a secure fashion are required,” noted Oracle Insight’s Basu in his article. “IoT is a network of intelligent physical objects and things that have the capability to connect to a network to be able to send and receive data. Predictive asset maintenance, plant operations monitoring, and fleet monitoring are some of the key use cases for IoT in the enterprise. Within the supply chain universe, IoT and blockchain together can provide major benefits for manufacturers, suppliers, and logistics service providers.”
And that’s just the beginning. For more information on paving a smoother pathway to digital upgrade via the cloud, visit Oracle Digital Transformation.
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