Making sure that the vital connection is made
There is a huge change happening that is mostly opaque to business. An Intelligent Network is coming that will help your business to boost internal operations and customer experiences.
The rapid response by business leaders to COVID-19 and the switch to remote working has been a beta test for a future scenario, where employees around the world connect and collaborate across disparate networks, devices and applications.
More generally, we see an increased need to provide hyper-customized, connected and Intelligent Networks to support business growth. These developments include connected products in healthcare, the manufacture of autonomous vehicles and the emergence of smart cities.
There is no doubt that a Connected Future driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) and intelligent machines is taking shape. The confidence of businesses in all sectors to run autonomous, mission-critical applications that demand responsiveness and reliability is growing exponentially.
That confidence also comes from advancements in frontier technologies, such as 5G and Low-Earth Orbit satellites, combined with proliferation of high reliability, machine-to-machine communications that are powered by intelligent-edge computing systems.
COVID-19 showed the fragility of our structures and the need to respond rapidly. Converged connectivity solutions, with edge computing powering the collaborative intelligence, will lead to the resilience and agility that businesses need.
Keep your motor running
While IoT is crucial to the Connected Future, the results so far have often been disappointing. Many IoT projects remain stalled at the proof-of-concept (PoC) stage due to technology immaturity, huge investments in legacy systems, and poor ecosystem readiness.
Moving beyond PoCs to a truly Connected Future is not straightforward. Enterprises are moving slowly towards end-to-end digitization (e.g. the digital enablement of systems, processes and physical assets). However, progress in this area is essential if IoT is to deliver on its promise.
Largescale IoT demands a system of systems approach, which adopts an event-processing architecture for intelligent machine-to-machine services. The lack of reliable and high-bandwidth networks, and an inability to securely process data at the edge, is a bottleneck to adoption. Managing thousands of connected things is a process that comes with considerable risk exposure.
But even when the vision to embrace IoT does exist, the operating models in many enterprises are more focused on cost control than organic growth. This lack of delivery creates a gap between business functions and technology departments.
Head out on the highway
We have the power to fill that gap and to create Intelligent Networks that deliver a technology-enabled business transformation. By ensuring more endpoints can plug into global flows of information, technology departments can help to deliver our Connected Futures.
For example in healthcare, the power of the Intelligent Network can enable the ultra-low latency performance required for critical machine communication, such as remote and robotic surgery. It can support data transfers of genome sequences and the use of machine learning, creating data-led insights that enable better diagnoses, treatments and outcomes.
We envision similar advances in all sectors. Our Connected Futures vision centers on three core elements: real-time, hyper-personalized connected products and services that generate continuous value; new business models that are powered by platformization; and improved return on investment, achieved through Intelligent Network systems that are enabled by a business and technology ecosystem.
To operationalize this vision, organizations must focus on several critical areas. Most crucially, IT departments should place the customer at the center of the journey. They should contextualize what the Intelligent Network means for their business. That means defining an architecture for chosen machine-to-machine domains, capturing technologies of interest.
Organizations should also work to develop an ecosystem approach. They should identify the key partnerships – across technology, standards and customers – that will help create the Intelligent Network. Potential technologies for consideration include augmented reality and virtual reality.
Edge computing, where computation and data storage takes place closer to the location where it is needed, is likely to be a key accelerator for this journey. IT leaders that demonstrate the power at the edge will drive the adoption of the Intelligent Network. This emerging architecture should be backed up with platforms that connect people, processes and systems.
Reaching the final destination
Slow progress around the IoT so far highlights how the connected age has got off to a sticky start. Faster progress will need enterprises to be bolder when it comes to the design and adoption of Intelligent Networks.
Enterprises must evaluate their potential ecosystem of partners, from technology suppliers to innovative start-ups.
Success might mean adopting techniques from other pioneers. It might mean deploying business operating models that are powered by other technology solutions, such as blockchain and the distributed ledger, to help create transparency and trust.
Executives must evaluate the potential of the Intelligent Network now. Reach out to suppliers that are developing systems and networks, and capitalize on technological disruptions that can help you gain a competitive advantage.