The recipe for success on the IoT: Learnings from Cisco’s IoT World Forum 2017

“Simplification of systems and human side. The practical significance of the Internet of Things will be centered around these two themes,” says Timo Inkinen, EVP, Smart Industries at Confidex.

The human side of the Internet of Things was one of the key topics of the Internet of Things World Forum 2017, a leading international industry event hosted by the ICT giant Cisco. Top executives from hundreds of companies were invited to attend the three-day event in London on May 22 to 24. Inkinen represented Confidex, a Finnish company with more than 12 years of experience with IoT and its implementation.

“The event has previously focused mainly on visions and strategies. In 2017, however, the message was that this is the year of action. This was delightful, as it felt like we have reached the stage of adoption where IoT is creating tangible value for our new and long term business partners.”

With billions of devices connecting to the Internet, it is easy for people to despair—even more so when they are told that if they can describe their job, it can be automated. The Internet of Things will change our daily lives in unprecedented ways. The darkest voices of doom are only seeing increased unemployment in the future. Inkinen, however, is seeing opportunities:

“For companies, of course, ability to perform is a key success factor, but the event reinforced my view that technology is a servant, not the master. The cost savings can be invested in retraining employees and freeing up time for creative work that requires thinking—work that cannot be replaced with bits or algorithms.”

Customer-centric IoT simplification

At the IoT World Forum, Cisco published a study indicating that only 26 % of all IoT projects are successfully implemented. While the percentage varies slightly by sector, it is surprisingly low percentage, considering how long there has been for example successful RFID implementations and how much enthusiasm IoT discussion has created.

“At the event, the audience voted for the main reasons that have prevented IoT from making its big breakthrough. Based on the vote, the most significant reason is lack of expertise, followed by lack of integration expertise and budget constraints. Information security frequently makes the news, but it was considered to be only the fourth most significant reason.”

The final breakthrough of IoT also depends on the customer experience. To Inkinen, the customer experience is opposite to lots of engineers implementing complex digital systems with fancy new technologies – it’s ease of use even when taking into account the demanding characters of industrial environment.

The core consideration is the simplicity of the services and products. Companies often make the mistake of trying to take maximum out of technologies, instead of designing solutions which serve the purpose. Confidex focuses to offer wireless connectivity solutions, linking assets with quantifiable data to enterprise systems. Confidex delivers with a highly rated customer experience of its hundreds of international clients from automotive, logistics and manufacturing industries.

“We have always collaborated closely with our clients. We co-operate to develop together solutions that are robust, easy to install and maintain and at the same meeting the application requirements,” says Inkinen.

"When tools, devices and daily operations work smoothly, people can invest their time and energy into something more creative. In addition to delivering a well-functioning solution, Confidex ensures precise and reliable project management, without compromise.”

Effective IoT in brief

Four things Timo Inkinen would highlight based on the discussions at Cisco’s IoT World Forum 2017.

1. Simplification of systems

IoT solutions will not succeed until end customers want to implement them with clearly defined benefits and ease of use. Users will not commit to IoT until it is sufficiently simple to use. IoT has made our world even more complicated than before and this is making the adoption of technology slower than expected. This means that companies should ensure the high quality and ease-of-use of their products and services by focusing on what they do best.

2. Human side of IoT

How can we ensure that digital transformation does not mean neglecting people? IoT frees up time from routine tasks and nurtures creativity, which generates new jobs.

3. Talent acquisition

Companies must also focus on ensuring that people have relevant knowledge and skills in the new world. Companies should not try to manage everything by themselves. Instead, they should focus boldly on their core expertise and partner with the best to solve challenges related the full solution and related talent gap.

4. Security

Imagine the WannaCry ransomware attack. Then imagine IoT. Today, we carry IT infrastructure in our smartphones in our pockets. Information security is even more important than before, particularly for devices that communicate with one another.