At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, you could see everything from drones that carry passengers to virtual reality systems that connect to the outside world via an external camera, but the one thing that connects them all is the Internet of Things. In fact, CES 2016 made it clear that it’s getting harder to determine where the line is between consumer and corporate technologies.
While most of the buzz surrounding IoT these days is generated by devices such as smartwatches, business applications will generate the lion’s share of the IoT revenue, and those applications will impact almost every job there is.
For example, MasterCard revealed that it's testing a service that would let people order groceries directly from a refrigerator manufactured by Samsung instead of making a trip to the grocery store, and Kodak Alaris announced that it's working with Google to use IoT services that will transform the way insurance claims adjusters capture and share data in the field.
Elsewhere at CES, a broad range of sensors for monitoring a wide variety of healthcare conditions show that the relationship between patient and healthcare provider is about to be transformed, starting with fewer trips to the doctor’s office. In a similar fashion, automobile manufacturers made it clear they will be using sensors to transform how cars are driven and optimally maintained. In fact, Intel made a case at CES that there is almost no human endeavor that could not be enhanced in one way or another using a sensor.
IT service providers need to take the lead
Most business executives, however, don’t get out of bed in the morning thinking about how IT might utterly transform the way their organizations operate. Conversely, most internal IT people are not close enough to the business to really think through all the possibilities that modern IT enables. The sad truth is that most of them spend their time thinking about how to keep their existing applications up and running.
As a result, IT service providers will need to be the ones to bring new ideas to the forefront. For many of them, that will mean getting much closer to their customers than they are today. Instead of waiting for a new request for quote to appear, IT service providers in 2016 need to have meaningful conversations with their customers concerning just how profoundly advances in IT are about to disrupt their industry.
This isn’t just a matter of creating new business opportunities for the IT services provider. It’s a matter of self-preservation because if existing customers don't understand the impact emerging digital business trends and IoT technologies are going to have many of them may very well be on their way out of business by this time next year.
Of course, IT service providers could wait for a business consultancy such as McKinsey and Co. to make a pronouncement about how IT is transforming one vertical industry or another, but once that starts it means there are already companies using IT to disrupt that industry—usually at the expense of the existing customers of IT service providers.
Rather than simply waiting for that process to play itself out, IT service providers should get in front of these trends before they become fait accompli in a way that does them and their customers more harm than good.