Mark Braund, CEO, Redstone

Matt Salter's previous blog touched upon the impact of intelligent working environments inspired by what is predicted to be the 4th industrial revolution, the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, Gartner predict smart commercial buildings will account for 35% of the smart city market, driven through IoT sensors.

At the heart of this investment is the desire to reap the benefits brought about by the alignment of the operational technology (OT) – used to manage the ‘building’ – and traditional enterprise information technology (IT). In the past, IT/OT alignment has failed, largely due to operational technology and OT control systems being developed at a much slower pace than (and in isolation of) IT technologies.

With the forthcoming mass adoption of IoT endpoint technologies however, it is expected that there will be a renewed and significant move to deliver true IT/OT convergence where alignment has failed in the past.
Gartner predict that due to the rapid growth of IoT in business environments, integration of IT with OT systems will become a business necessity as soon as 2018, when 70% of incumbent OT leaders are predicted to have successfully deployed IoT technologies to transform operational potential.

A key example of this is the transformation of the workspace through IoT solutions. There has been a lot of discussions in the media surrounding London becoming the data capital of the world. The considerable stress on costs for operating in London or any smart city will be compounded by this trend. One solution that promises to answer these challenges is smart space capacity management, driven by IoT.
Being able to manage office space capacity through real-time insights can significantly reduce running costs: whether through effective facility management, true hot-desking or increased energy efficiency; office space optimisation will be a key asset for delivering profits in smart cities.

Furthermore, Gartner expect leading businesses that invest in ‘IT/OT’ alignment to benefit from: greater situational awareness of productivity and performance; leveraging data across OT and IT to support their big data initiatives; condition-based maintenance, reducing costs and a myriad of staffing cost paybacks through leaner processes.

These trends could lead to the disruption of many business models. For example, Gartner forecast the proliferation of OT data collected from sensors will drive CIOs to seek new benefits from "data brokers" and data exchange businesses, driving growth in Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions – something we will discuss further in the final installation of this series.

Over the next five years, we can expect an increase in new vendors entering the IoT market. This will, in-turn, challenge heritage OT solution providers for more than 80% of these new OT customers, across small to midsize businesses and in underserved industries, driving OT solution costs down by more than 50%.

Despite challenging economic pressures over the last eight years or so, businesses have remained competitive and profitable by relentlessly optimising operational efficiency and processes. As we move toward an EU digital single market, the opportunities for scalability through technology have never been more exciting.

However, as opportunities present themselves, so do new and emerging competitors. It is therefore vital that businesses continue to streamline their practices to remain competitive. Integrating IT and OT infrastructure through IoT is the most apparent and yet underutilised programme promising to deliver tangible benefits on the bottom-line.

Ultimately though, the real benefits of IT/OT integration lie within the actionable data that can be captured from smart sensors.