CIOs Of The Future Need To Capitalize on New Data Sources

As The Internet of Things paves the way to cars that recognize their driver and washing machines that call in for repairs, CIOs should reach out to colleagues in R&D and be at the forefront of driving business strategy.

Refrigerators that replenish their own groceries. Washers that call in for repairs. Car dashboards that recognize the driver and serve up a customized display.

Part fantasy now, part reality soon enough, and all of it heading our way as the Internet of Things paves the road to our digitized future. By 2015, an estimated 1 trillion devices will be connected to the Internet, continually feeding in data from cell phones, computers, TVs, cars, machines and embedded sensors.

If only George Jetson could see us now. In case you’re too young to remember The Jetsons—the early-’60s animated TV show that planted flying cars and household robots named Rosie deep in the psyches of Baby Boomers—Wikipedia and YouTube can catch you up. George was the lead character, a bumbling computer engineer confounded by all the gadgetry in his life.

George would never make the cut for a CIO’s job today. As our cover story (“The Internet of Things: How CIOs Can Influence the Next Wave of Product Innovation”) makes so clear, the future belongs to CIOs who tap into the huge streams of data flowing from the Internet of Things and help create the next wave of new products and e-services. Our story digs into some current and compelling examples from Mazda, Sony Electronics, Taser, and Hughes Telematics, which produces an array of sensing technology for customers such as Mercedes-Benz.

The biggest challenge for CIOs isn’t about technology at all. It’s about creating relationships with parts of the company where you’ve never collaborated before. You’re already skilled at working with marketing, finance, sales and supply chain. But product engineers and RaannddD wonks?

Mazda CIO of North American Operations Jim DiMarzio knows what that’s like. His IT team offers insights to and brainstorms with RaannddD on how technology might deliver snazzy customizations like dashboards that recognize drivers by their smartphone signal. “They are starting to recognize that we deal with this stuff every day,” DiMarzio notes. At Sony Electronics, CIO Drew Martin got his IT staff directly involved with product engineers developing the new Sony Internet TV. “Spend time in the area where the company is trying to differentiate itself from competition,” Martin recommends.

Making profitable use of new data streams from the Internet of Things is the perfect opportunity to embed the IT organization more deeply in your company’s business strategy. What better place to be is there than that?

Maryfran Johnson, Editor in Chief, CIO Magazine & Events

mfjohnson@cio.com

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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