Tag: Internet of Things

The Challenge of Security Services in the Internet of Things | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The first thing to think about in the nature of Internet of Things security is that you have to recognize this is not “one and done.” The fight to secure your IoT environment is an activity that continues in perpetuity. The resources you initially allocate will be substantial, but they will escalate and costs will increase over time. It’s a very different way to think about a process than the services world’s normal engineering approach where you have a large up-front cost that becomes smoothed out, so you spend less and less money on it over time.

In the IoT, we can segment into two kinds of security. And there are different ways you approach the two. And both have a different level of funding.

The first segment is security at the edge, or device level. Here you need to be sure that each level is secure and monitored, from the device at the edge all the way through the network and the apps in an ecosystem. Think of this as a hygiene or compliance role in which you need to ensure that security exists, it’s adequate, you monitor it for effectiveness, and that any attack is limited and limited to only a small segment and can’t spread. Those are the things you need to look for at the compliance level.

The second kind of security is around architecture and end-to-end monitoring. This requires a thoughtful end-to-end view of the objective you want to accomplish through the IoT, how you view security in the total ecosystem, how you architect it into systems, and how you monitor it at a systems level for the entire process that you define within the IoT. This security level typically reports to the chief security officer and requires a different level of thinking, talent, and investment.

If you’re not doing both the hygiene approach and the architectural view, black hats potentially can use any holes to corrupt the whole chain.

Even though you believe you have adequate security by levels, that doesn’t mean you’re safe. The inventiveness of the black hats is so robust that you’ll have to continually invest in protection. You first need to invest in architecting your solution from end to end and then continually monitor it and adapt it as new threats emerge.

One thing you can be sure of is that threats will continue to emerge.

Taking the Internet of Things Journey from Pilot to Program | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

In the services world, how can we create business value from the Internet of Things?  As I’ve blogged before, the IoT is replete with opportunities to apply the data flow among IoT devices to business processes and transform the world. Therefore, it should open an unending series of opportunities for service providers to create completely new lines of service for their customers. So why is that potential primarily resulting in disjointed pilots and not evolving to programs?

I’ve observed the same pilot-to-program problem also occurring in analytics and cloud. How can service providers solve this problem?

I think the answer in most cases, and certainly in the Internet of Things, is that the pilots are not focusing on solving a real business problem. I acknowledge that some revenue-generating programs are successfully underway in some companies. But many can’t get to programs because the pilot doesn’t start with the right focus.

Let’s use service warranties as an example and look at how to apply the right focus.

First, define the issue – a real business problem – and then ask: “How can the IoT affect the warranty of our products and solve this problem?”

The answer to the question gives focus to what you want to try to accomplish. With this focus defined, you know what signals to look for from the data. You understand what data you need to acquire, the location of the relevant signals, and how to act on those signals to enhance your customer’s warranty experience or service experience.

Then you can build warranty platforms that apply broadly across multiple companies. And you’ll be able to transform the customer service processes and the device maintenance services.

If you start by characterizing a business problem and then ask how the IoT can solve the problem, you can move from a series of disjointed pilots to a program that can capture significant funding and create robust business results, gain market share, improve customer satisfaction and potentially even lead to creating additional service offerings.

The warranty service example is just one of many opportunities for the Internet of Things. I’d be interested in your opinion as to other IoT opportunities for the services world.

Digital Transformation – Will IBM Attain its Aspirational Leadership Position? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Everest Group had the opportunity to attend IBM’s APAC analyst day in India on 11-12 June 2015. Business and technology leaders from IBM presented their offering portfolio, demos, and real life transformative case studies with active participation from their clients. One thing that stood out was how Big Blue is communicating not only its technology vision, offerings, and organizational commitment toward open technologies, but also its internal transformation to serve clients and reclaim its technology leadership position. It realizes that the “old IBM” ways will no longer work, and it needs to become more nimble and innovative, and play an important part in shaping the technology disruption the digital age has brought onto us.

What’s happening?

Earlier this year, IBM aligned its go-to-market strategy around key industry verticals. It also created internal structures to make myriad of its offerings, technology groups, services business, sales and marketing, and its research lab work in sync. It believes this will help create solutions that are required to leverage digital technologies, and thereby not only redefine itself, but also create a new ecosystem of product and service providers around it.

Going back in the history, IBM truly transformed the technology industry when it invented the Mainframe. And while today’s technology becomes tomorrow’s legacy, no one can deny that the Mainframe was a historical system that shaped and created the technology industry as we know it today.

However, since then, IBM became a nuts and bolts company providing middleware, desktops, and back-end efficiency solutions focused on enterprise computing. While it did introduce incremental innovation and acquire many technology companies, it did not play a meaningful role in shaping the industry vision. It continued to invest in its research labs, and its products were always considered leaders in enterprise computing. But it hasn’t been a leader in true enterprise technology transformations such as the rise of ERP, virtualization, SaaS, or IaaS.

This has changed. The analyst meeting demonstrated that digital has become the new pivot around which IBM will take back its earlier pedestal position of being the company that forms, shapes, and guides the technology industry. This story was ably supported by multiple client interactions during the event. Clients say that this is not the IBM they had earlier worked with, or had expected to work with.

IBM’s much publicized partnerships with digital native firms like Facebook and Twitter, and leading user experience and design companies such as Apple, are an important but small part of its digital journey. The bigger part is moving away from its traditional way of working, and realizing that it must play a key role in the digital everywhere environment. Its increased focus and core commitment toward open technologies is highly apparent. And it has always had the technology, scale, and reach to transform businesses. Now, the muscle it’s putting behind Softlayer and BlueMix, its mobility play, and its investments in analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Watson have the potential to transform not only its clients but itself as well.

Is there any challenge?

With its go-to-market alignment with industry verticals, IBM can bring effective solutions to clients looking to transform their businesses. However, disruption in most industries is happening from the outside, (e.g., Uber to the taxi industry, Airbnb to hospitality, Apple Pay to banks, and Google cars to automotive), rather than within. Therefore, a rigid structure around industries may not work well. IBM will need to ensure that its technology, industry verticals, and innovation groups talk to each other, an area where it has historically struggled.

Moreover, monetization of some of these innovations will be a long, drawn out process. IBM has had significant growth challenges, and has shed many of its businesses. For its growth and profitability to return –which should be the big drivers along with reclaiming its innovator status – IBM has to do a lot more. It has historically been viewed as a company that helps clients’ operations run more efficiently; it now needs to carefully position and communicate its willingness and ability to partner in clients’ growth.

Where does IBM go from here?

In addition to the digital technologies IBM possesses, other of its strong strategic initiatives include: internal transformation around reskilling the workforce toward innovation and design thinking; commitment to open technologies; collaborative alignment between its services business and its technology groups; renewed commitment toward client centricity; improved sales effectiveness; and focus on solving core industry problems.

IBM’s changes have been pushed right from the CEO’s office, and IBM executives believe results will be visible in the next 6 to 12 months. IBM needs to play a dual role in which it helps some clients disrupt their industries and business models, and assists others sail through the digital disruption. It again needs to become a technology innovator. While it’s a difficult task, we believe it has the needed technology, vision, and now internal alignment to achieve these objectives.

Avoid the “Gotchas” in Purchasing Next-Gen Tech Services | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The new technologies sweeping the market hold great promise of competitive advantages. But there’s a disturbing trend occurring in the services sales process for these technologies that poses a risk for buyers. Look out for providers talking about cloud, mobility, big data, the Internet of Things, and social in the same breath as SaaS/BPaas, automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Providers that jumble these technologies together as though they are homogeneous really don’t understand the implications of what they’re trying to sell you. They’re basically throwing mud against your wall and seeing what sticks.

The possibilities with all of these technologies are exciting, but they have distinctly different impacts on the buyer’s business.

As illustrated in the diagram below, we can bucket one class of impacts as those that create new business opportunities. They provide new types of services that enterprises can use to change the composition of their customers or provide different kinds of services. For example, the Internet of Things holds enormous promise around allowing enterprises to provide a completely different class of services to their customers. In mobility and social technologies, the digital revolution holds the promise of changing the way businesses interact with their end customers.

Changing technology opens up new opportunities but also creates strategic challenges

Changing technologies

The second class of new technologies (Saas/BPaaS, automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence) changes how services are delivered. For example, SaaS takes a functionality that was available but delivers it through a different mechanism. Automation and robotics changes the way service is provided by shifting from FTE-based models into an automated machine-based delivery vehicle.

The two buckets of technologies have different value propositions. The first class of technologies (cloud, mobility, big data, IoT, and social) are about getting new and different functionality. The impacts in the second class are lower costs and improved flexibility and agility. Each class of technologies has different objectives and value propositions and thus needs a different kind of business case. Buyers that mix these technologies together in a business case do themselves substantial disservice.

The way you need to evaluate the two distinct types of technologies (and providers offering them) is completely different. A provider that recognizes that automation, robotics, and SaaS are about changing the nature of delivery will have a much more thoughtful conversation with you and build its value proposition around flexibility, speed, and quality of service and cost.

A provider that recognizes the impact of mobility, cloud, big data, and the IoT technologies will talk to you about a value proposition around standing up exciting new capabilities, creating new offers and changing the conversation with your end customers.

So, buyer beware. If you’re talking with a provider that mixes these technologies’ distinct value propositions together, you’re dealing with a provider that really doesn’t understand what they’re offering.


Photo credit: Flickr

Selling New Services Concepts | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Why are many service providers struggling to sell new technology in volume through traditional channels? If the provider’s sales team challenges the buyer with a new concept such as the Internet of Things and the buyer understands how it will change their business, why don’t they take action and buy it?

The answer is they can’t.

For new concepts and technologies, the only source of funding is at the C-suite level. Everyone else in the organization runs from a budget. The C-suite are the only parties that are able to generate a budget.

It’s not that you can’t sell to the other stakeholders, but you have to sell what they’re buying — what they’re asking for and what they have a budget for. That’s fine if you’re selling application maintenance or finance and accounting services — a function they already know they need and you’re selling it in the way they need to purchase it. But they’re not empowered to take action on new concepts.

Often in new areas such as the Internet of Things, the actions require cutting across traditional organization structures, and the business stakeholder you try to sell to doesn’t have the ability to do that. Therefore, if you sell it, you’ll be faced with only experiments and incremental activity; although they move in the direction of the new technology or new capability, the result is small and frustrating in that it rarely lives up to the potential of the new technology.

We see this in analytics where the potential for the digital revolution and analytics to transform supply chains and business models is huge. But each party in an organization only acts within its own domain and within its own budget.  So buyers are forced to look for opportunities to create the funding through savings, which limits the enterprise’s progress toward these exciting possibilities.

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