About Chakib:

Chakib is a well know business executive who has distinguished himself for his success using technology as an enabler to transform organizations to run their operations better, faster and cheaper, and also to create new revenue streams.

Technically, he has expertise in Industry 4.0, Shipping 4.0, Smart Services, Drone Services, and Analytics. Chakib always has a financial objective for everything he does, according to him “if it cannot be monetized, it is just not good enough!”Chakib’s educational achievements include an M.B.A., International Business and a B.B.M., Business Management. His professional career includes having been the Chief Digital Officer of Bumi Armada Berhad and building the technology department for Baker Hughes Inc. in Asia and the Middle East. Currently, he is the Program Director for New Technology Innovations at OSM Maritime Group, with the main task of bringing the organization to shipping 4.0 standards (Connected Vessel). He has also been part of the prestigious Gartner Research board and has advisory experience.

For more details, Chakib’s profile can be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chakib/

What is IOT in a nutshell?

Everyone keeps hearing the term IoT, and many people are trying to understand it and read about it. Unfortunately, most IoT related articles are written with so many technical jargons that non-IT educated people get lost. So I will try to answer in the most simplistic way I can:

IoT (Internet of Things) is the concept of connecting any device to the internet. By any device, I mean anything from a coffee maker or refrigerator all the way to clothing (wearables). According to Gartner, it is expected that there will be 26 billion devices connected to via IoT by the year 2020.

Connecting devices to IoT allow us to track performance remotely and in real time, and also to gather information (data) about the device’s utilization. When multiple devices are connected, then we start acquiring lots of data from many devices, and at high speed (also known as Big Data). This is particularly important because if all this data is analyzed correctly, it can provide trends, which translate into knowledge, and that knowledge enables people to make factual (data-driven) decisions, which usually results in better decision-making and fewer errors.

So in short, with IoT, anything can be monitored as long as it is retrofitted with a sensor that gathers and sends information. Because “anything” can be monitored through sensors connected to a network, this is called the Internet of Things.

What technologies does IOT leverage upon?

IoT requires a combination of several technologies:

Sensors: Sensors are required to be installed in any device in order to gather and send information. Sensors can be made for purpose, so in essence, anything of interest can be monitored. 

Connectivity: In order for the sensors to transmit the information they gather, a network connection is required. For most “smart services” the connection is frequently WIFI or 4G connectivity. For some purposes, however, there is a type of connectivity created specifically for IoT called Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN). While it sounds very complicated, it is not. Why do we need an LPWAN? Let me explain:

Some sensors need to be placed in locations where access to electricity is not available. In these cases, the sensor needs to live with a battery. If we used 4G or WIFI to connect those devices the battery would die in a few days (Just like your phone), and changing or recharging hundreds of batteries every other day is not a viable solution. This is where LPWAN is useful because allows minimal amounts of data to be transmitted, so little that an IoT sensor can live for several years with battery power, thus enabling sensors to be placed in areas with little or no access to electricity.

Cloud Computing: Normally, IoT sensors send the information to an external company for data repository (known as cloud computing) where it can then be archived for future analytics. Cloud Computing is ideal because of its elasticity in relation to data growth. As millions of IoT devices are tracking information, it is essential for organizations that require this data not to have to worry about continually buying more data storage devices; therefore, a cloud environment provides the flexibility, redundancy, and security needed for such requirement.

Analytics / Business Intelligence: Once the data is acquired and placed in a centralized repository, it then needs to be “sliced and diced” to provide trends and insights that otherwise would not be noticed. This is why data scientists are now in such high demand because their expertise is to analyze the information received to provide the best possible insights, which can translate into a competitive advantage for many businesses.

What is its commercial application?

The reason this question is difficult to answer is because the applications are limitless. The only limitation is what you can and cannot imagine. Let me explain with a couple of examples to show what I mean.

Imagine a mall management company that pays a third party to clean the bathrooms, and these companies clean based on an hourly schedule. Now imagine that the mall management company decides to put sensors in the bathrooms to keep track of how many times the bathroom has been used, and this system sends automated requests to the cleaners pointing towards when the bathrooms need service. Now the Mall Management Company pays only for cleaning when necessary, and they can use the data for better forecasting of maintenance.

Similarly, and perhaps more amazing is the case for toilet paper. The mall management pays a third party company for going to each bathroom on a regular basis to check if the toilet paper has been depleted and to replace it when necessary. The mall management has to pay for each visit. Now imagine that a sensor can track when the toilet paper is depleted and this company only visits the bathroom when new toilet paper is required.

What is interesting is that both cases above are not made out of my imagination, and in both cases, the companies who adopted those technologies have saved significant costs in their operations. In short, companies that design these IoT solutions can commercialize their products assuming that their idea resolves an existing problem, and the clients create efficiencies and cost savings. It is a Win-Win.

What job types do you expect to be in demand as a result of the growth in application of IOT?

 

I think more than particular jobs, it is a series of skills that will continue to increase in demand. Below is a list of some that I can are critical:

 

App Developers: New IoT solutions will require applications to use the collected data or the real-time monitoring from any device, anywhere.

IoT Business Designer: Several companies are starting to hire IoT experts who understand the business side of the company because it is essential that any solution created solves a real problem (I refer to this as Business Driven IoT Solutions).

Machine Learning Algorithms to help create smarter appliances and products using sensors and other connected devices.

Autocad: With the sophisticated number of IoT solutions, this software created for engineering applications will continue to be needed in years to come by solution architects and others.

Data Analytics: Data Scientists and others with proficiency in transforming the data collected into useful insights will be critical.

Data Presentation / Data Visualization: Knowing how to present the data with a clutter-free and easy to understand dashboard will also continue to increase with IoT.

Security Infrastructure & Security Engineering: While everyone is talking about IoT, the risks for cyber attacks increase with sensors connected to the network in several places; therefore, security infrastructure skills will see constant and increased demand.

Electrical Engineering: To create the next generation IoT devices will require more than the typical software knowledge. In my view, we will see a significant demand increase for expertise in electrical engineering.

Business Technology Translators: There will be a great need for people with expertise in their respective verticals who understand the basics of IoT because they can evaluate the feasibility of a particular IoT solution for their industry. For example, if I want to create an IoT solution for oil rigs, who better than an oil rig operations manager to tell me if my IoT solution resolves a problem? Again, this is in line with what I referred to as “Business-driven IoT.”

 

What advice would you give someone interested in moving into the IOT domain – how can you reskill?

Let me start by saying that IoT is not rocket science. Once you understand the basic concept of IoT, the next part is to know how the information flow works from the sensor all the way to the data repository, and then how the information in the data repository is sliced and diced to provide analytics (insights) that improve decision making.

The good news is that while it can sound complex superficially, most existing skills in people’s relevant sector are transferable because once people understand the concept of IoT, then it is relatively easy to brainstorm how IoT can be used to resolve industry problem (Remember to toilet paper case above?). Industry expertise is paramount.

Finally what trends do you expect to see in the market? – changes and areas of growth…and, what does the future hold?!

I think the entire marketplace is changing because every industry realizes that technology is no longer an IT department in the back office fixing computers. I am convinced that organizations that embrace IoT, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence will gain a significant competitive advantage in the market. Some others will not believe and will only realize it when it is too late. This brings to memory the KODAK case.

Some of the most respectable forecasts worldwide see IOT spending to sustain a compound annual growth rate of 14.4% through the 2017-2021 forecast period surpassing $1trillion by 2020. What this means is that smart organizations should look beyond implementing IoT solutions merely to gain efficiencies, instead, they should identify digital alliances to package and offer those same solutions to the market, which in turn would create new revenue streams. This, of course, requires a different mindset and agile management. I call this Mangement 4.0.

The impact of technology on everything around us is clear. The question for CEOs is:  Is your technology leader adding value with innovation adoption? Or are they merely keeping the lights on? That simple question is perhaps one of the most critical issues to ask yourselves. Your company is either riding the wave or watching the stream, and I do not think you can afford to be a bystander!