2022

Data analytics in IoT offers new opportunities for MSPs

For MSPs monitoring thousands of IoT devices, parsing the associated data stream provides an outlet for growth. MSPs, however, must first acquire the essential skills.

Partners have an opportunity to expand their IoT services into the emerging field of analytics.

Indeed, CompTIA, an industry association, has identified three areas where IT service providers can engage in the IoT market: selling IoT devices, managing and monitoring them and data analytics. Providing data analytics in IoT, however, demands specialized skills.

“This takes analytics skill and training, as well as the ability to apply data findings to business opportunities, goals and challenges a customer might have,” said Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA. Offering such a service “will require investment by channel firms in terms of human resources, technical and sales skills,” she noted.

The channel is “not quite there yet,” April added, but said data analytics is a focus area that has grown in importance across the last three years of CompTIA’s State of the Channel studies.

Early successes

Vivek Kaushik refers to IoT analytics as “IoT version 2.5,” explaining that the channel is still figuring out how to monetize the sale of IoT sensors and devices. But Kaushik, senior vice president of client services and account management at CSS Corp., a technology consulting services provider, called IoT analytics an “an exciting space.”

The company, based in San Jose, Calif., has started capturing data coming out of IoT devices “and we’re able to infer and create some predictive models to help [clients meet] the business challenge,” he said.

For example, CSS Corp. is working with one client to extract data from devices on farm tractors to predict a diagnostic issue and when a tractor would require service.

Similarly, the company is helping a locomotive components and operations client do predictive maintenance on railroad equipment to preempt device failure, optimize services and inventory, and update field engineers and procurement officials on when to order replacement parts.

In the railroad example, CSS Corp. has developed a six-step methodology that starts with identifying the most critical data associated with equipment for accurate predictions. Then the data is trained and tested in machine learning platform TensorFlow to build prediction models. Next, sensor data is merged with acoustics and image data to identify patterns, and then data from breaks, bearings and wheels is analyzed to identify wear and tear.

That way, CSS Corp. officials can identify uncharacteristic system behavior and resolve issues before they occur, as well as identify the best maintenance schedule and make recommendations to clients to optimize processes.

The next step is to see if the firm can bring in another layer of intelligence to see why some equipment performs better than others, Kaushik said. Beyond analyzing historical data to predict a maintenance failure, now CSS Corp. officials want to see if they can use a locomotive company’s sensors and IoT data to suggest whether a different maintenance process would extend the life of a piece of equipment such as a wheelbase.

This takes analytics to the augmented level, he said. Augmented analytics includes information coming into a centralized platform from different sources, including a locomotive company’s competitors, or other trains in the same company. “Maybe they’re oiling [the wheelbase] two times a day and they need to do it three times a day,” he said. The idea is to take best practices from what other trains are doing and moving from predictive to suggestive, which is the augmented component.

AI will play a big role in making this possible because a system becomes increasingly intelligent by consuming more data and doing more repetitive tasks, Kaushik said. “This is the journey we’ll see more and more.”

 

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Top industry experts predict tech trends for 2022!

In the early days of 2021, few industry analysts guessed that the focus for tech professionals would be on the quick deployment of solutions

In the early days of 2021, few industry analysts guessed that the focus for tech professionals would be on the quick deployment of solutions to support widespread remote work in the coming months. Despite this, unless something unexpected happens, IT sector experts can usually predict future trends.

Some industry professionals provide their perspectives on how technology will dominate the year 2022, from the continuous technical support needed for remote and hybrid work to new solutions to service clients to potential cautionary stories!

Mahesh Zurale, Sr Managing Director, Lead – Advanced Technology Centers in India (ATCI), Accenture:

“The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, compressing a decade of digital transformation into just a few months and igniting a new era of exponential transformation. With technology becoming more accessible to people across the organization, it will enable better synchronization between IT and business departments to build better solutions aligned to business needs. This will help companies to gain an innovation advantage that best positions them for future success. Finally, a major focus area for companies in 2022 will be worker upskilling and collaboration so that their people can become a core part of their digital transformation journey.”

Srinivas Mukkamala, Sr. Vice President of Security Products, Ivanti:
“The past two years have disrupted the long-standing norms on how organizations operate. This year companies saw how fragile their supply chains were and needed to adapt to new customer needs. Those who adjusted to these changes sooner became the most successful this year. 2021 made one realize that if businesses continue to have a direct outlook and sharp focus on their digital and tech transformations, they will emerge as the new leaders. This year I learned that leaders don’t wait for the “new normal,” instead they build one. 2021 was all about growing investments in AI, cloud computing, robotic process automation and hybrid work culture. There were also nation-state led cyberattacks that dominated a large portion of the cyber-related news cycle at the end of 2020 and throughout most of 2021.

Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp:
“If we look at the industry today, most tech or non-tech organizations generate consumer benefits and business value by leveraging 70 to 80% AI-led operations and creating AI-infused products and applications. While AI can be a helpful tool to increase productivity and reduce the need for people to perform repetitive tasks, it can also give rise to a host of significant unintended (or maliciously intended) consequences for individuals, organizations, and society. Most organizations have bias bounties in place, and this trend will run rampant in the coming years.”

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Top tech trends that business can’t look away from in 2022

Welcome to 2022. No one knows what the future has in its store. But every new year brings new possibilities with it- a new ray of hope. In the December issue 2021, PCQuest put together a technology wishlist for 2022 encompassing the A to Z of future technology trends. This article talks about enterprise technology trends (Cloud, AI, Analytics, Blockchain, Automation, Web 3.0, Security) and some interesting and emerging industry-wise tech trends (RetailTech, ManufacturingTech, AutomotiveTech, AdTech, EdTech, HealthTech, FinTech, and more).

Rahul Joshi, CTO at CSS Corp, talks about the significant role AI plays in our daily lives and why it’s vital to follow ethical AI and eliminate biases. He also highlights how there is a huge demand for responsible AI solutions in the market.

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7 Unmissable Trends Shaping CX In 2022

A tumultuous, calamitous, and unpredictable year. That was 2021. It was a year in which all of us became really familiar with a bit of Greek as names such as Delta and Omicron made their way into our lives. In 2020, shaken by the continued effects of the pandemic, businesses learned to do things differently. In 2021, businesses thought they had covered most of their bases when it comes to customer experiences, but there’s a lot to be done still. Any long-term CX strategy must have as its nucleus proactive support models, digital-first, instant customer gratification experiences, and complete attention to customer security and privacy.

Given what 2020 and 2021 gave us, how do we look forward to this year? Here are what I believe will be the major predictors for customer experience in 2022:

  • Over half of pandemic-era services will become the new normal

It may not look it right now, given the relentless surge of a mutated virus, but this pandemic will end at some point. Things will change. Its effect on our lives will reduce. But what I don’t expect to change will be the kind of disruption in technology this pandemic brought about. In CX, especially, post-pandemic consumers will demand the same digital and offline experiences offered to them right now. 

I would go a step further and say those expectations will only increase. Disruption will gain momentum. A Forrester report from August 2021 shows that 57% of consumers believed companies should have learned how to handle pandemic-related disruption. Two years into this pandemic, what have businesses really learned? From online grocery shopping to telehealth to ed-tech to augmented reality experiences, customer experiences will continue to evolve.

We are already seeing many new ‘normals.’

2022 will show us just how normal the new normal will be. 

  • EX practices could influence two-fifths of consumers’ purchase decisions

I expect 2022 to be the year of EX transformation. Employee well-being will become a business-critical imperative. This means that EX transformation would be driven by senior leadership and not just the HR teams. 

As businesses understand this, they will factor ethical responsibility and EX into their customer journeys. Forrester data expects 15% of enterprises to look closely at employee psychology and experience this year.

Human-centric tech transformation that merges CX and EX can result in a 3%-5% gain in productivity. We always knew that EX is key to delivering a great customer experience or CX. But this year will show just how important it is to amplify EX to realize transformative change for customers. Identity, data analytics, security, and collaborative tools that accelerate the ease of remote work will lay the groundwork for improving employee experience. Empathy will emerge as a key organizational capability this year. If you haven’t started building more empathy into your employee processes and interactions, now is the time to bridge that gap.

  • ‘Anywhere X’ leaders will enjoy a steep revenue advantage

It’s not just WFH, but WFA – work-from-anywhere. Leaders will deploy a virtual-first and remote-first architecture for the ‘anywhere work’ and ‘anywhere commerce’ world. 

I expect technology to revolve around offering mobility-first experiences – and customers will be willing to pay more for the kind of products or services that enable that experience. Businesses will have to focus on delivering high-quality customer experiences on the go rather than through physical touchpoints, and the degree to which they can pull this off will determine the revenue they derive. 

Gartner estimates that by 2023, 75% of organizations that exploit distributed enterprise benefits will realize revenue growth 25% faster than competitors.

  • Insights-led companies will increase their chances to beat the competition by three times

Brands collecting zero-party data will double – Forrester

There’s a wealth of data now available. So much so that companies that extract insights from this data should be looking to generate better customer experiences. Brands will close that experience gap with data-driven insights of the customer. 

Analytics was always descriptive, letting you know what has already happened. But when companies invest in data insights, they will start to realize that data can be predictive, telling you what will happen next. I see 2022 being the year when businesses will start using predictive data insights to connect at a deeper level with customers, anticipate their pain points and behaviors, and identify opportunities in real-time. Would the next stage be prescriptive analytics, where organizations get recommendations on what to do next? Yes. We are on that path, already.

But transitioning data into insight and action will not be an overnight process. It will require changing mindsets, especially from CX leaders who would need to recognize that data and technology are their biggest strengths. It will also require breaking silos and building cross-functional teams. When you consider this from an organizational perspective, you would require new roles such as Chief Data Officers who can share insights across different regions and departments for comprehensive action. 

  • Customer skepticism around data will threaten targeting and propel digital trust programs

One-quarter of US consumers use privacy and security tools to prevent firms from tracking their online activity – Forrester 

Digital experiences are becoming increasingly complex, with almost 62% of customers preferring personalized products and services. Data is the key to providing that personalization. Yet, companies also realize now that people want more privacy and control of their data. As our digital identity continues to grow, decentralized digital identity or DDID will reshape and reimagine the way brands interact with customers. Forrester expects 10% of US firms to turn their attention to privacy and consent journeys this year.

The expected deprecation of third-party cookies will bring challenges in providing the personalization customers seek. The focus, therefore, will be on businesses that can capture unique data at scale and ensure a seamless flow of customer insights at all levels of the organization. Companies will also need to build their own ecosystems to collect data directly from customers rather than third-party sources. Are we going to see a zero-party data world this year? Yes. Very much so. 

  • ESG values will dictate purchase behaviors in 2022, and brands will be forced to listen

Let’s remember that acronym. ESG or environmental, social, and governance issues are everywhere. You would have heard a lot about ESG in 2021. ESG will be even more at the forefront this year. 

Brands that have neglected their ESG values have learned it the hard way. Whether it’s diversity commitments or eco-packaging, customers want to see brands deliver on their promises. This means that expectations on brands will be higher: they should proactively create the best ESG practices rather than react and respond. 

Will customers pay more for healthier, more socially conscious, and sustainable products and services? Yes, I believe they will. 

“I will discontinue my relationship with companies that treat the environment, employees, or the community in which they operate poorly.”

76% Consumers. PwC Consumer Intelligence Series June 2, 2021

That’s a telling message if there ever was one. Meet the 2022 customer: The one who drives change through their purchase decisions. 

Brands must deliver on agility, sustainability, and commitment more than ever before. Or face the brunt. 

  • Multitrillion-dollar Metaverse market will beckon a new age of AI

20% of enterprises will use explainable AI to debias their models and get transformational insights – Forrester

The Metaverse exploded into popular consciousness after Facebook rebranded itself as Meta. Immersive AI experiences are the future. 

Why would Metaverse be so attractive for businesses? Because brands can use the Metaverse, especially given together with VR/AR to deliver new, enriching, and interesting customer experiences over virtual platforms.

Going by the massive upsurge in data-led insights, I expect generative or creative AI to be at the forefront of innovation, enabling businesses to provide personalized services without violating privacy norms. Gartner’s research points to an increased acceleration in the use of generative AI, stating that by 2025, this would account for 10% of all data produced, a dramatic surge from the less than 1% today. Large companies will introduce bias bounties to improve their AI models and identify biases in the algorithms. We already saw one example of that in 2021 when Twitter announced its first bias bounty challenge and said that “this is the first step of many that need to come.” 

As we wait to see what this year unfolds, delivering positive CX experiences will be the catalyst for continuing digital business transformation despite the continuing volatility. 2022 will be the year for businesses that recognize that they must meet their customers where they are. 

We are at a digital tipping point. The future of CX is now. And it’s brimming with promise. 

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