The average consumer using the Internet in 1990 may not have known the impact that connectivity would have on our lives – specifically the products we use every day, but leading technologists were already on to it.
Fast forward 25 years and the transformation can be summarized in three information technology waves according to the Harvard Business Review article, How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition. The first IT wave happened during the 1960s and 1970s and involved automating such individual activities in the value chain as order processing, bill paying, computer-aided design and manufacturing resource planning. The second IT wave happened in the 1980s and 1990s with the rise of the Internet.
The first two waves brought huge productivity gains and economic growth for manufacturing. Yet while the value chain was transformed, products themselves were largely unaffected.
Now in the third wave, IT is becoming an integral part of the product itself. Embedded sensors, processors, software, and connectivity coupled with a product cloud where usage data is stored and analyzed and some applications are run, are driving dramatic improvements in product functionality and performance.
With each new wave of technological innovation, IT becomes a significant facilitator in enabling companies to capture first mover advantage, operational effectiveness and competitive advantage, states Steve Dertien, Senior Vice President for PTC’s Office of the CTO, in a recent CIO Review article.
Yet for companies to capitalize on the third wave with smart, connected products, CIOs need to expand their roles with broader expertise, particularly in two critical areas: managing product data and security. Those who do stand to make a greater strategic impact in their organization, as well as their success with the Internet of Things.
Today, the CIO is not only instrumental in implementing the necessary smart, connected technology stack, but is an important partner to engineering and other functions in developing the overall company strategy for smart, connected products.
This involves putting systems and processes in place to manage massive volumes of product data, keep it secure, and make it available across departments to drive insights that ultimately help generate greater value for customers and competitive advantage for the company.
Imagine the vision and leadership this requires in the expanding role of the CIO, to not only address today’s changing IT needs, but to prepare the way for the broader changes to come in the Internet of Things.
While the average consumer is just now glimpsing how dramatically our lives could change with this third wave of IT, once again leading technologists are already on to it, leading CIOs included.
This post references content previously published in the CIO Review article: Expanding Role of the CIO with Smart, Connected Products by Steve Dertien.