Back in February I posted a short item on this site Here comes the Chief IoT Officer telling how an article on the VentureBeat web site argued that companies need a senior-level champion to help accelerate the adoption of “game-changing” IoT technologies.
The VentureBeat article was in fact a blog post from Syed Hoda, CMO of IoT analytics company ParStream. He brought to the article impressive IoT experience. Before joining ParStream he had been general manager and marketing leader for Cisco’s Emerging Solutions Group, and one of the ‘chief storytellers’ (whatever those are) for Cisco’s Internet of Things and globalisation initiatives.
A couple of days later his conclusions were rubbished in a blog post by Gartner VP Mark Raskino. After dismissing Hoda’s blog post rather unkindly as “a minor news report” Raskino said: “I see four types of new C-leader role.” He listed these as enduring, transitional, niche and unicorn.
The role of Chief IoT Officer fell into the latter category: “A mythical role that either never existed, or fewer than 10 people ever managed to get it on their business card as a full time job.”
Chief IoT Officer a mythical beast
“I place Chief IoT Officer in this category, at least for now,” Raskino said. “As I’ve said before, the internet of things is an internet of products — so I believe that responsibility will fall substantially into product management and other existing areas —it is not a distinct need.”
To prove his point, Raskino put up a screen shot of a search on LinkedIn on the phrase “Chief IoT Officer” showing zero hits.
When I did the same search on 10 August I found two: Stevica Kuharski, founder of Croatian Software company Omnibotics, who also gives himself the title of chief IoT Officer; and Jason Smith who looks like he might have given himself the title just to prove a point against Raskino. Whatever, neither of these really qualify because they do not hold that role in large and structured organisations. I also tried the same search phrase on indeed.com, ranked the most popular job site in the US, and got zero hits.
However, putting the same phrase into Google produced just shy of 6000 hits. So is the idea gaining momentum? Probably not. When I tried to eliminate any of these that referenced the Hoda’s VentureBeat blog, the number dropped to 88, and quite a few of those were clearly spawned by Hoda’s blog, despite my efforts to eliminate them.
So is he a lone voice chasing unicorns? Not entirely. In a Datamation article in April Why the Time is Right for a Chief IoT Officer, Jeff Kaplan, managing director of consulting firm THINKstrategies, said: “Only a specially designated IoT ‘czar’, or Chief IoT Officer, with access and authority across every department can fully address all the challenges associated with IoT initiatives and provide the leadership necessary for success.”
He argued that the IoT can deliver four levels of business value, each of which can have a significant impact on an organisation’s operations and corporate success.”
The case for a chief IoT officer
He listed these as being: the ability to react more quickly to resolve a product/service problem in order to preserve customer satisfaction; the ability to proactively maintain products and services to reduce the cost of support, increase reliability and encourage greater customer loyalty; the ability to improve ongoing operations by streamlining business processes and better target corporate resources; and the ability to identify new market opportunities that create a greater competitive advantage and potentially transform the nature of a company’s business.”
He concluded: “Gaining all four levels of value requires a broadminded corporate vision, a radically new approach to product/service design, highly specialised technical skills, and fundamentally rethinking an organisation’s go-to-market strategies, from sales to customer support.”
He said that only a chief IoT officer could have the “multidimensional perspective that spans the traditional corporate silos, and bridges the gap between business and technology.”
Wanted: an IoT ‘czar’
If the findings of a survey from API developer MuleSoft that I reported last week are accurate, they lend weight to Kaplan’s arguments for a role with broad oversight of IoT right across the business. Forty six percent of respondents said IoT would be “very important” over the next 12 months, 77 percent of organisations said they already had an IoT strategy and their intended applications for IoT were spread across a number of business areas.
Kaplan argues the case for chief IoT officer at least as compellingly as Hoda’s, but his article does not appear to have generated anywhere near the number of references and spin-offs as Hoda’s.
So if there are any conclusions to be drawn from this they are:
– if there is a role for a chief IoT officer, it has yet to emerge;
– the number of references that can be found on Google might suggest the idea has entered the zeitgeist, but this can be deceptive: some contributions get endlessly repeated, whilst others are largely ignored.