Emerging and innovative technologies, including mobile, cloud, big data and The Internet of Things, can improve operations and customer experiences and even create new business opportunities. Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner, explains that although these technologies are innovative and disruptive on their own, together they are revolutionizing business and society, disrupting old business models and creating new leaders.
Mr. LeHong answered some questions around what CIOs should consider around significant emerging trends and technologies to be better positioned competitive advantage:
Q: How should an organization evaluate emerging trends?
A. Most organizations can easily recognize themselves as generally Type A, B or C, though there may be pockets of each in different business units or departments. The trouble is, if an organization operates exclusively within its comfort zone, it will miss opportunities. It will always tend to adopt everything early, or late, in line with its enterprise personality.
Organizations should recognize their risk comfort zones but be prepared to step outside them depending on the strategic importance of an innovation. That is, they should aim to be selectively aggressive. Where it can lead to significant competitive advantage, organizations should move early, even if they are not normally aggressive.
Q. Mobile is a key trend revolutionizing business today. How should CIOs look at this trend?
A. Currently, tablet and smartphone applications are the focal point of interest for consumers and enterprises. Although mobile technology seems to be at the pinnacle of its progression, future waves of opportunity are still to come. Therefore, the enterprise must have a position on how mobile technology will improve the enterprise strategy — waiting too long poses too much risk of missing or not being ready for future opportunities.
Q. Big Data is an oft-discussed trend. What is the best way for CIOs to focus on this trend?
A. Most CIOs and their teams are spending a lot of time trying to understand the innovations in the big data technology itself. However, CIOs and their teams must also be well-versed in how the business will need to embrace innovative ways to get the most value from big data. What do we mean by "innovative ways"? We mean that the business will need to use data sources that have never been considered before. We mean that the analytics made possible by big data technologies use very different types of analysis. New data sources and new analytics require the business to accept and trust these innovative ways. Even if big data technologies are used in a "noninnovative way" — for example, in a way that boosts analytics speed — business processes will need to change to make the most use of this newfound speed.
Q: The Internet of Things is evolving from a niche area into a mainstream activity. How should enterprises investigate this trend to position themselves to exploit the coming opportunities?
A: Conceptually, the Internet of Things (IoT) describes how the Internet is being used to link smart devices, such as consumer items, automobiles, city infrastructure, enterprise assets and a myriad of other physical assets, so that these new endpoints can be controlled and/or can create and receive a data stream from one another or from conventional computing environments.
When these devices ("things") directly (or indirectly) connect to the Internet, they become an extension of the enterprise and mobile computing environments. New experiences, operating efficiencies and business models can be created and deliver enhanced value through improved utilization of these physical assets. The potential impact of the IoT is vast, reaching to every corner of technology, business and the consumer experience. The IoT has been emerging for decades, with origins in factory automation, machine to machine (M2M) interaction and embedded systems. Its impact will increase in the coming years as the costs of technology and connectivity continue to fall, and it becomes even more pervasive.
Mr. LeHong will be discussing more details on these emerging trends and innovations at the CIO Peer Forum this month in Edmonton, Canada.
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