Why the future of enterprise IT will be a mix of IoT, AI, blockchain, big data, and more

By: Anna Fry

13, September, 2018


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The days of emerging technologies being seen in silos are long gone – and it is time for organisations to move with the times.

It is not a new concept by any means. As far back as 2012[1], analyst firm Gartner was pushing its concept of the ‘nexus of forces’. Cloud, social, mobile and information, as they saw it, may have been disruptive enough on their own – with cloud as the ‘glue’ holding IT together – but combined, they would rewrite the book on enterprise IT best practices.

But over the past 12 months, concept has turned into reality. Take what Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, told attendees[2] at VMworld, his company’s yearly Vegas customer jamboree. Using cloud, mobile, AI and edge as the example, each technology complements the other thus. Cloud enables mobile connectivity; mobile creates more data; more data makes AI better; AI enables more edge use cases; and more edge requires more cloud to store the data and do the computing. It’s a virtuous circle – with security at the heart of it.

The reasons why these developments have become possible are simple. In the case of machine learning, it’s because of major upgrades in computational power, aligned with the prodigious amounts of data being created. For cloud, it’s the price of storage going down, becoming a commodity rather than a differentiator. For the Internet of Things, it was being able to move computing power and network capabilities to a myriad of devices and appliances – and with 5G and the promises of edge computing around the corner, things will only get better from here.

So what practical applications can we see from this convergence, and how can other organisations benefit?

Take Trimble[3] as an example. The transportation software giant is combining big data, the Internet of Things, machine learning, and blockchain technologies to help reduce costs and increase efficiencies. Large amounts of data are taken, whether from internal systems or various transportation devices; machine learning models are drawn up from the data and insights are gleaned; and the whole thing is stored on a blockchain platform.

Or at a more disparate level, Kimberly-Clark[4]. The personal care product manufacturer generates data both internally and externally, and claims to have saved more than $250,000 in two years with more efficient use of data by utilising a platform with technologies from three different big data vendors. Machine learning is used to enhance the performance of digital promotions, while the company also introduced an ‘intelligent restroom’ app, with sensors which can remotely check soap dispensers and air fresheners in residential properties.

With all this in mind, what do you need to take advantage? Firstly, an appreciation of risk. CIOs have felt increasingly under pressure[5] to make the right decisions as IT has become more strategic – but a sense of risk brings greater reward. According to a more recent Gartner analysis, from January this year[6], IT spending will continue to rise despite uncertainties at both the organisational level and with the general economy. Blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and progression from big data and algorithms to machine learning and AI will be its primary drivers.

Secondly, to realise the potential, know that data is at the heart of this – but don’t let it put you off your path of innovation. “IoT on its own is useless,” says Johan Krebbers, IT CTO at Shell and a speaker at the recent IoT Tech Expo Europe conference[7]. “It only becomes useful when we pick up the data, apply machine learning to it, digitise it, and help the decision maker.”

Finally, don’t feel the need to do everything at once or be blinded by buzzwords. Some technologies naturally mature quicker than others, while others would not make appropriate use cases. Take for instance the question of whether a blockchain is needed over a more traditional database. If you’re looking for privacy and trust over transaction speed as a key selling point, then a blockchain may be for you.

This is therefore the future of enterprise IT; a combination of IoT, blockchain, cloud, artificial intelligence, and big data. Don’t look at each technology in isolation and panic, but consider your company roadmap and customer journey – and go from there.

Attend the AI & Big Data World Series of events to learn more about the convergence of enterprise technologies of the future.

You can find out more about the World Series 2018-2019 and register for each event here:

AI & Big Data Expo North America28-29th November 2018, Santa Clara, Silicon Valley

AI & Big Data Expo Global25-26th April 2019, Olympia

AI & Big Data Expo Europe19-20th June 2019, RAI, Amsterdam

[1] https://www.cloudcomputing-news.net/news/2012/aug/02/gartner-cloud-makes-it-world-go-round/

[2]  https://www.cloudcomputing-news.net/news/2018/aug/28/vmworld-2018-multi-cloud-strategies-aws-partnership-blossoms-vsan-and-nsx-updates-and-more/

[3] https://hortonworks.com/blog/big-data-powering-blockchain-machine-learning-revolutionize-transportation-logistics-industry/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/07/13/the-brilliant-ways-kimberly-clark-uses-big-data-iot-artificial-intelligence-to-boost-performance/#7b6683eb36d7

[5] https://www.enterprise-cio.com/news/2015/nov/02/cios-under-more-pressure-due-increasingly-strategic-role-it/

[6] https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2018-01-16-gartner-says-global-it-spending-to-reach-37-trillion-in-2018

[7] https://www.iottechnews.com/news/2018/jun/22/johan-krebbers-shell-why-poor-quality-data-wont-cut-it-delay-your-iot-initiatives/