The Internet of Things – Our Future Wings

How will the Internet of Things change business - and change our world? The Jönköping SI network held an event addressing the topic. Helga Kayda reflects after the event.

The Internet of Things - Our Future Wings

It was meant to be a one-hour presentation, but something went wrong– or wonderfully right. It was quite a bit longer than that, andit was the most exciting learning experience one can imagine. Why?

Oh, it was finally time! The long-awaited shift away from the theory that we learn at lectures all day, to all the exciting thingswhich happensout there,in the real world. The thing is, all the models we see in books are simplified. You realize that things are far more complicated when you find yourself in work environment. And when technology comes into play… things get complicated.

Sadly, many current students and future managers do not realize the importance of IT and the vital role that digital solutions will play in their daily lives as business professionals. Digitalization has already transformed the way business is done, so why not make friends with it and get some insights from those who already did and were successful in doing so?

Who else should we then learn from if not Husqvarna, the company that sets innovation as its top priority? Husqvarna has more than 325 years of innovative acts and miracles since the year 1689 – when, according to Ulf Axelsson, “We were producing weapons… that’s what everyone was producing back then.”

That era was followed by the revolution of sewing machines (1872), and my personal favourite, the Motorcycle era (1903). And in 1959 Husqvarna introduced its first chainsaw and took the path that made it more like the company we know today – producing riders and famous Automovers (and much more!). If you ever happen to be in Jönköping, you should definitely stop by the Husqvarna museum. It’s a great lesson for all business students on how to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage over the period of… well, several centuries!

What is the secret to Husqvarna’s current success? The answer is its leaders, who were quick to pick up how smart, connected products can redefine industry boundaries. The smart, connected products which then become product systems and systems of systems (really complex, huh?) are all results of digitalization and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

What is IoT? These are the magical devices that collect data and then exchange information among themselves, while you can relax and enjoy your life. Think about a smart home where the lighting, air conditioning, heating systems and even your favourite welcoming music that starts to play once you return back home from a hard work day, will all take care of themselves (and you). How about the smart car? The one that will book a place at the restaurant for you, call your friends to ask where they are, and drive you to the place you need) Yes, it will be the car who drives you, not the opposite.

Guess what, by the year 2020, there will be 21 billion IoT devices. Isn’t that mind-blowing?

All of this becomes possible thanks to sensors and connectivity processes. According to our speaker, sensors will soon beeverywhere,and IoT is a key driving force for economic growth.There are endless possibilities,and the potential for growth is enormous. What’s important to realize is that the world we live in and oursociety are becoming more digitalized, and IoT is a key element in this process.

The rate of technological progress is as high as ever (and keeps increasing), which also results in changed consumer behaviour in regards to mobile analytics and cloud computing.To stay ahead of competition and, more importantly, develop a sustainable competitive advantage, large companies should start treating IoT as startups and adopt a time-to-market approach, instead of focusing on traditional operational excellence. Considering that IoT projects include multiple products/services, organizational units, etc. they must be carried out in an agile environment involving both IT and the business.

Now, back to business students: see any connection to what I was talking about at the beginning of the article? You’re good if you do. In case you don’t, you still have some time to catch up. Though, beware, that time runs fast; the faster you are in this race for an opportunity, the higher you score in the end. Any great business idea needs perfect timing!

And while Ido get it that not all of you are,let’s say, passionate gardeners, think about what else all these awesome smart product systems can do, if they can make decisions on their own, faster and more efficientlythan humans. I'll tell you more, it's going to hit you as consumers before you even get a chance to notice it, just like your fridge will order more milk before you notice you're out of it. The opportunity is out there, so go for it! Who knows –  maybe someone reading this article now will get so inspired by IoT that they will revolutionize the market with a breakthrough idea few years later?