A Marketer’s Guide to The Internet of Things
To remain competitive, marketers need to prepare now to capitalize on IoT technology
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Businesses should also start instrumenting and collecting data from these sources and subjecting it to correlation and analytics, he adds. That will require investment in strong data science and analytics capabilities to make sense of data and guide and execute analytics initiatives.

Chitsey offers similar advice, suggesting companies bring in resources or dedicate them internally to consider all aspects of IoT technology, especially during the design and architecture phase of the project. This includes questions about what will be done with the data. “A lot of organizations miss these steps and try to re-architect their technology to go back, which is very expensive if not done correctly,” she warns.

Organizations must take four key steps to prepare for IoT projects, according to Gimeno-Feu. First, they must be ready for new generations of smart sensors that do not need to send data to the cloud for analytics to be applied. Rather, these sensors will be able to run analytics on the device itself, which can allow for “autonomous decisions to be made by devices about a next action, within a defined set of rules, without the need for a human to be involved.” Second, they should prepare to implement artificial intelligence, which will “bring sensor-to-sensor and sensor-to-actuator communication to the next level, creating new value and new intelligence.” Third, they need to attract or retain a skilled workforce. Fourth, they need to establish an IoT ecosystem to ensure they can keep pace with the inevitable technological advances in the space.

Of all of these steps, the labor pool might be the biggest obstacle: Data scientists and other IoT experts are scarce.

Statistics corroborate the demand for data scientists. According to an MIT–Sloan Management Review, 40 percent of companies were struggling to find and retain qualified data analysts. IDC predicts that by next year, companies will need 181,000 people with deep analytical skills and five times as many people with data management and interpretation skills. A growing number of universities now offer analytics and data science programs, but schools can’t get trained people out into the field quickly enough, according to research from Deloitte.

To further highlight the shortage, data scientist topped Glassdoor’s “Best Jobs in America” list for the second year running, based on the number of job openings, salary, and overall job satisfaction rating. For 2017, Glassdoor lists the position’s overall job score as a 4.8 on a five-point scale, with a job satisfaction score of 4.4 and a median base salary of $110,000. This year, Glassdoor counts 4,184 job openings for data scientist. In 2016, the site listed 1,736 openings.

Beyond personnel, other investment targets should include streaming analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence platforms that can accept large volumes of high-velocity data, analyze them, and extract meaningful insights in short periods of time, according to Venugopal, who says that these technologies could enable “rapid-turnaround decision making and responsive actions to leverage the opportunity.”

These actions can include selling or offering the right product at the right time in the right place or context or preventing problems such as security breaches, service outages, and customers terminating contracts.

“The power of the IoT lies in the value you create by bringing together the hardware, networking, and data in a thoughtful way. It’s important to sense and respond in a way that solves a problem,” SAS’s Mitchell says. “The devices and networks will definitely change rapidly, so focus on being able to understand what is happening by becoming data experts. From there, you can create value by using the information to predict the best result. That value engine is the core of your IoT model.”

“The IoT provides us with the opportunity to change the way we live our lives and interact with our surroundings,” Anthoine says. “It is, by all means, a disruptor to the legacy system business model.”

Looking forward, Gimeno-Feu predicts that the IoT will foster collaboration on an entirely new level. “As no one business can reap the potential benefits of the IoT alone, we’ll see platforms and standards enabling a more open IoT ecosystem, with cross-fertilization and mutually beneficial business services created across enterprises, geographies, and industries, blurring previous borders and encouraging innovation,” he says. “The increased interoperability of IoT devices will also enable a faster and more wide-ranging adoption of the IoT, as consumers and businesses alike will start to benefit from the ability of connected devices to integrate and communicate with existing infrastructures and each other.”

Assistant Editor Sam Del Rowe can be reached at sdelrowe@infotoday.com.

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