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October 9, 2013

Gartner: Internet of Things Plus Big Data Transforming the World

Isaac Lopez

Big data and the Internet of Things are taking center stage this week at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2013 in Orlando, Florida, where Gartner is saying that the IT industry is becoming fully immersed in the digital industrial economy.

The digital world is upon us, said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner Senior Vice President and Global Head of Research at the Symposium, themed “Leading in a Digital World.” Sondergaard argues that in the new digital industrial economy, every budget is an IT budget, and every company an IT company. He points to the convergence of the “Internet of Things” with our personal worlds as a trend setting up to fundamentally change the world right before our eyes.

“In 2009 there were 0.9 billion sensors and 1.6 billion personal devices,” said Sondergaard. “[That’s] roughly 2.5 billion things that were connected. By 2020, that will grow to become 30 billion things. Compute power will be cheap and covert – we won’t know it’s there. It will be in our jewelry, our clothing. We’ll put more computers into our laundry in a week than we’ve used in our lifetime so far.”

This uber-connectedness combined with the analytics capabilities promised by the big data technology trend will create new value for all organizations, spearheading an economic boom, said Sondergaard. By 2020, Gartner predicts that consumer data collected from wearable devices will drive 5% of sales from the global 1000.  “Gartner projects that the total economic value-add for the Internet of things will be $1.9 trillion dollars by 2020,” said the research chief. “It will create new markets, it will drive both revenue and cost efficiencies, and the benefits will flow to a wide range of industries.”

Gartner projects that these forces will reinvent industries at three levels: business process, business model, and what they refer to as “the business moment.”

“Your digital story is written in technology,” said Gartner distinguished analyst Nick Jones. “Imagine your enterprise in this digital economy [where] every asset costing over $100 is smart and networked. Every building contains hundreds of sensors. Every process is digitalized. Every person and every machine has an activity stream that you can subscribe to.”

The theme of the program is how this new digital paradigm is changing everything, including who any given businesses’ competitors are. “You’re biggest opportunities and your most threatening competitors are new digital business models and business moments,” said Jones. “And the majority of those new business models will be enabled by technology, which is why in this digital world every company is a technology company.

The trend towards digitalization is creating a shift which is fundamentally changing the playing field altogether, argued the Gartner analysts. “Do you know where the digital disruptions to your business are coming from,” thundered Gartner Fellow, Dave Aron. “The digital winners are ruthlessly and fearlessly creating the digital industrial economy.  Roles are changing. Business models are changing. Timeframes are changing. Industry and company boundaries are blurring. We can’t rely on old practices, safe relationships, legacy technologies, and known vendors. We have to explore adapt and adopt new digital realities. We have to be fearless digital leaders.”

The year 2020 seems to be the reference point where the digital convergence has happened and fully underway, indicating that there is a lot of change that Gartner expects to happen over the next five years. The event taking place this week is a clarion call for IT leaders to examine their trajectories and where they expect to be at this particular moment in time.

“There has never been a more exciting time to live and work in the world of technology. We sit at the edge of a new era,” said Sondergaard. “2020 is not far away. Today you are building the digital industrial economy, and the quality of your leadership will define our future.”

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