Service challenges and opportunities for the Internet of Everything
The increasingly interconnected Internet of Everything is driving acceleration and opportunity, but what are the implications for CIOs and service managers?
Think about goods on a cargo ship traveling to a far-away destination, with sensors reporting the condition of the produce. Think about a store whose merchandise is all connected with sensors. An item in that store’s inventory communicates when it has been sold, and if a store credit card is used, it can link directly to the purchaser. The Internet of Things is clearly becoming the Internet of Everything, and the business opportunities are extensive.
And so are the implications for C-level executives. As today’s business is more dependent on technology for its survival than at any point in history, more than ever, today’s CIO must act not only as a technology leader but as a critical business partner who understands the nature and direction of the business.
The challenge for many CIOs is that they are seen simply as technologists. But a more fitting title and role should be “chief digital officer” – a position that is the conduit to disruptive business and can drive new methods of revenue generation.
The old CIO perception problem is exacerbated by the useful lifecycles of technology decreasing. It gets worse for CIOs as the business side of the house is increasingly aware and empowered to directly procure IT-enabled business solutions, often leading to investments in capital equipment that hold little value to the organization – yet some still point back to the CIO and question their business acumen.
In response, many CIOs are transitioning to a new agile environment where speed is critical. To deliver, they need to integrate with the business transformation at the rate, pace and risk appetite of the business. For instance a new solution with top secret or business-critical information will mandate greater levels of security. Too many IT organizations do not classify the information appropriately, often implementing a single security approach rather than an information-based approach. This often leads to frustration on the business side, as too many controls end up being placed on some less-critical information in order to guard the critical information.
Of course, when it comes to information, there’s just a lot more of it these days. Our CIOs or CDOs will have to deal with the explosion of information that the Internet of Everything and Big Data is delivering. Vast streams of data, when correctly leveraged, can provide critical competitive advantage, but many CIOs are still getting to grips with the correct resources required to drive real informational value from that data.
For our service managers, the Internet of Everything will present some really interesting challenges.
First they will need to be able to truly understand all of the components that make up the business service. Unlike the largely static systems and services of the past, today’s environments are increasingly dynamic and the frequency of change will only accelerate. To be successful, service managers will need to ensure that services can be built in almost real time to support the ever-changing business processes that are dependent on technology. Service managers need to understand their configurations, including the components and partners that make up their services, and focus on configuration management and their configuration management databases (CMDBs).
I am not promoting a return of standalone CMDBs, but I am suggesting the focus on the discipline of configuration management is important. In a world where sensors become part of every service, combined with a dynamic configuration, the service configuration is more critical than ever.
Service managers should focus on the process of automated configuration management to ensure end-to-end visibility of the service, which in turn will give them improved visibility of services and better information on the impact of component failures. Additionally, availability should improve, as the sensors provide better health information that enables service managers to proactively triage failures.
The Internet of Everything is here, and its arrival offers IT organizations new and exciting opportunities to add value to the business and assure business continuity and resilience.