How IoT is enabling a new wave of digital business transformation

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The consumerization of technology was an opportunity for IT organizations to become strategic business partners. Unfortunately, the opportunity was missed by many. There is a new opportunity to transform IT’s standing but it will be missed if leaders don’t act fast. The Internet of Things is enabling a new wave of digital business transformation and will be the catalyst for IT leaders to become innovation engines for their business.

IoT will enable the most manual and mundane business processes to become competitive differentiators through digitization

The first evolution of IT, decades ago, was caused by the Internet, web and e-commerce. During this evolution, IT organizations had time to figure out how to craft and architect solutions that would ultimately allow for ultra-rapid iteration. Technology teams learned alongside their business counterparts because technology was still something primarily used only in business. When technology consumerized through mobile, social, and media hype, business expectations skyrocketed and many IT organizations were left with bruises and black eyes. Business tolerance for slow legacy processes and systems was nascent, and IT was disintermediated swiftly by SaaS providers promising point solutions that could be quickly implement without IT involvement. 

Connected devices are projected to double over the next four years. Much of the media attention will focus on consumer use cases demonstrating the ease of automating our daily lives. Media hype and consumer solutions was also the catalyst for the consumerization of IT.  Innovative consumer companies simplified technology raising the bar that IT organizations had to live up to.  

The nature of IoT will give all companies a new means of digitizing legacy business models regardless of their current level of business dependence on technology. Said another way, IT organizations that have never been highly relevant in their companies due to slow technology uptake by their business model need to buckle their seat belts. IoT will enable the most manual and mundane business processes to become competitive differentiators through digitization, regardless of industry. 

In order for IT organizations to earn their place at the strategic table, they will need to look back at lessons learned during the Internet age and from SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, cloud). They need to implement an extensible platform for IoT that easily integrates on top of their legacy architecture. A solution that provides business partners the ability to rapidly prototype various IoT offerings. This environment must be data, protocol, and device agnostic because IoT solutions will evolve across traditional industry and technology boundaries requiring a variety of devices and protocols to work together in harmony.

IT cannot wait for standardization to occur, or they will miss the business need that is about to envelop them. Solutioning IoT around individual use cases will not suffice. Innovative use cases will evolve too rapidly for bespoke technology initiatives to keep up. Business models deserve to iterate, test, fail fast and often with IoT, just like they do with e-commerce. Legacy excuses for not keeping up with the IoT demand that is coming will seal the fate of many IT organizations. Get prepared for consumer-like time-to-market IoT expectations at work, expectations that are created by today's simplified, digitized day-to-day lives.

Sven Gerjets is EVP and Chief Technology Officer at Mattel. Previously, Gerjets served as the President and Chief Product Officer at Colorado-based software company, where he supported the company’s business development efforts as well as product strategy for’s award-winning digital transformation platform (DxP).