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IoT pegged to take centre stage in IT strategy

Posted by pakin On December - 19 - 2017

The adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms will dominate enterprise IT strategies in 2018, according to Hitachi Vantara.

Information technology will adopt IoT platforms to facilitate the application of IoT solutions, and must work closely with the operational side of businesses to focus on specific needs and define the scope of IoT projects, according to a company survey of 2018 IT trends.

“Building IoT solutions that provide real value can be difficult without a deep understanding of the business to properly simulate and digitalise operational entities and processes,” said Hubert Yoshida, chief technology officer of Hitachi Vantara, a subsidiary of Hitachi.

Russell Skingsley, chief technology officer at Hitachi Vantara’s Asia-Pacific division, said enterprises should find IoT platforms that offer open, flexible architecture, simplifying integration with complimentary technologies. The chosen platform should further provide an extensible “foundry” on which to build a variety of industry applications companies need to design, create, test and deploy quickly, with minimal hassle, he said.

For enterprises that started their digital transformation this year, the first problem they ran into was the ability to access their data. Data is often locked in isolated islands that make it costly to extract and use. These islands were not built to be shared, and many contain data that is duplicated, obsolete or no longer used because of changes in business processes or ownership.

“Data scientists tell us that 80% of the work involved in gaining analytical insight from data is the tedious work of acquiring and preparing it. The concept of a data lake is alluring, but you can’t just pour your data into one system, unless it has been properly cleansed, formatted and indexed or tagged with metadata so that the data lake is content-aware. Otherwise you end up with a data swamp,” said Mr Skingsley.

While object storage can take in massive amounts of unstructured data and provide metadata management and search capabilities, the capacity to be context-aware is missing. Object storage now has the capability to be “smart” with software that can search for and read content in multiple structured and unstructured data silos and analyse it for cleansing, formatting and indexing.

Hitachi Vantara said this year would witness a growth in analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) across the board as companies see real returns on their investments. According to IDC, revenue growth from information-based products will double the rest of the product and services portfolios for a third of Fortune 500 companies by the end of 2017.

“AI became mainstream with consumer products like Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri,” said Mr Skingsley.

Video content analytics will be a “third eye” for greater insight, productivity and efficiency in a number of domains beyond public safety. Algorithms that automatically detect and determine temporal, spatial and relational events combined with other IoT information such as mobile phone GPS and social media feeds can be applied to a wide range of businesses like retail, healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, education and entertainment.

Mr Yoshida said video can provide unique functions, like ego motion — 3D motion used in autonomous robot navigation — behaviour analysis and other forms of situational awareness.

“Retailers are using video to analyse customer navigation patterns and dwell time to position products and sales assistance to maximise sales. Video analytics relies on good video input so it requires video enhancement technologies like de-noising, image stabilisation, masking and super resolution. Video analytics may be the sleeper in terms of analytics for ease of use, ROI (return on investment) and generating actionable analytics,” said Mr Yoshida.

IT organisations have a legacy of siloed operations with server, network, storage, database, virtualisation and now cloud administrators passing change notices back and forth to deliver a business outcome. In fact, many would argue that IT was more focused on IT outcomes than business outcomes.

“Even when data centres use technology to create shared data repositories to break down the data silos, the different functions were still focused on their own objectives and not on the overall business objectives. Now with cross-functional teams using iterative agile sprints of two to four weeks, IT can focus on relevant business outcomes and deliver it more efficiently,” said Mr Skingsley.


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