Internet of things connected plant pot

The Internet of Things is high on the agenda of CIOs and vendors alike and is widely expected to be the big topic of the next year or so. Why? IoT offers CIOs and their organisations an opportunity to truly understand how their organisations operate and with that data informed decisions can be made.

Analyst houses are also backing IoT to be the next big thing; in the most recent report I read Frost & Sullivan believe in the Asia Pacific region alone the spend on IoT software and hardware will reach over £40 billion by 2016. And this is a region that is now beginning to witness economic difficulties.

This week a group of top flight CIOs, six of whom feature highly in this title's CIO 100 listing, came together to discuss this topic. Some 22 CIOs guarantees a good debate, but whereas our usual meetings offer everyone a chance to swap battle stories and experiences of how their implementation occurred or how technology is affecting their sector, this round table was a little more esoteric as the discussion was focused on opportunities that are just round the corner.

Three strands of thought weaved through the conversation last night: first that IoT can deliver a greater understanding of the organisation to the organisation; secondly there are very complex information governance and security issues that the CIO will have to grapple with; and lastly the correlation between IoT and that other buzz word of the moment, Big Data, which IoT will lead to an increase in.

A number of CIOs expressed how in understanding your organisation more clearly the power of this technology will also lead to organisations understanding a great deal more about the consumers they supply to. In a business-to-business trade there will be major implications on intellectual property access as IoT will provide suppliers with an opportunity to see materials consumption, designs or a plethora of information led insights. Devising, guaranteeing, operating and governing the separation of the information collected will really become an instrumental part of how CIOs implement IoT and live up to the I in CIO.

For CIOs in business-to-consumer markets privacy, which is already a major topic, will increase in primacy. One IT leader with considerable experience of consumer sectors reinforced the importance of respecting the wishes of consumers that do not wish to share information via IoT. CIOs from the financial services sector agreed, adding that IoT will place "an obligation of trust on the organisation". That obligation will lead to considerable behaviour change between organisations and customers. Mobility and social media has already created a global culture where customers expect to be able to immerse and interact with your organisation, CIOs from a variety of sectors said this was hugely powerful to their sectors, however it was not without risk and can kill off a product. This leads us at CIO UK to wonder if the IoT will lead to a demise in innovation?
A number of CIOs discussed how communicating and asking will need to become part of corporate culture and how to increase the level and quality of communications around privacy and opt in options for consumers.

The "situational awareness" organisations will gain is truly powerful and several CIOs shared optimisation experiences they have already been through and how they see IoT improving this opportunity for optimisation. Again some CIOs were concerned that this awareness will stifle innovation as organisations over focus on collecting information they already know they should collect. CIOs such as Anthony Watson have already expressed through these pages that data scientists and business analysts are the human capital of most worth to them and their organisations if they can think differently and ask why?

The size of the market for IoT is just a small part of the picture, the complexity of deriving real benefits from IoT will be where CIOs can deliver value to their organisations.