For this post we interviewed David Stephenson, principal of Stephenson Strategies and LiveWorx presenter.  He is an internationally-recognized Internet of Things thought leader, strategist and writer, and long-time futurist.  He is particularly known for creating two IoT concepts: the circular company -- replacing traditional hierarchies--in which departments and even suppliers, distributors and customers, could work collaboratively, sharing instant access to real-time data; and "SmartAging," which combines Quantified Self devices to help seniors improve their health and smart home devices so they can manage their homes and avoid institutionalization.

Q: Can you give a brief overview of your LiveWorx Session "ThingWorx-A Platform for Management Revolution"? 

A: In the second Harvard Business Review (HBR )article, Jim Heppelmann and Professor Michael Porter raised the challenge, "For companies grappling with the transition (to the IoT), organizational issues are now center stage - and there is no playbook. We are just beginning the process of rewriting the organization chart that has been in place for decades."  I presented on how ThingWorx can be much more than a technical IoT platform. It can answer the question by being a platform for management change, away from hierarchy and linear processes, to an integrated circular management form revolving around a REAL-TIME IoT data hub. It can break down information silos, improve efficiency and also spark innovation by allowing departments to work collaboratively -- and even integrate supply chain and distribution partners as well as customers.

Q: What are you currently seeing in the tech industry, are there hot-button issues that should be addressed? 

A: There's more and more cutting-edge phenomena (from Apple's new circular headquarters to the "circular economy" that's taking hold in Europe, to the way Thingworx and other applications allow real-time collaboration, etc) that are bumping up against the linear and hierarchical structures that still govern companies, even progressive and innovative, forward-thinking ones. Just because we've had hierarchy and linear processes since the birth of the Industrial Revolution doesn't mean they're inevitable.  As Thomas Kuhn, the great MIT historian of science (and father of the "paradigm shift" concept) wrote, "Scientific revolutions are inaugurated by a growing sense... that an existing paradigm has ceased to function adequately in the exploration of an aspect of nature to which that paradigm itself had previously led the way."  

I argue that's the case with traditional management: we now have the tools to go beyond it, and we're about to see a revolution in how we manage -- so why not accelerate the change?

Scientific revolutions are inaugurated by a growing sense... that an existing paradigm has ceased to function adequately in the exploration of an aspect of nature to which that paradigm itself had previously led the way.

Thomas Kuhn Historian

Q: What about future trends, where do you see things going?? 

A: Augmented Reality (AR) will be an important tool for the IoT, Apple is making a huge investment in it but at this point I'm not sure if it will become ubiquitous with the IoT. I'm also interested in the concept of “citizen coders”;  low code/no code tools are being developed with drag and drop capabilities, this allows people without coding experience to create apps. Apple has new software for app design that elementary school kids could use, when those become prevalent there will be a real revolution in the IoT. People with the subject matter expertise, but no coding experience, could now create extensions for ThingWorx and other platforms. The truly remarkable thing about the Iot isn’t the individual devices and things, it’s that we can share real-time data about "things" rather than dealing with a limited amount of data sequentially. This approach will fundamentally change things because it unleashes an unprecedented degree of creativity…put it all together with new tools and we'll have results that no one person could ever come up with.

Visit David’s website for his latest blog posts or contact him at D.Stephenson@stephensonstrategies.com.

For more insight on the future of the IoT, register for LiveWorx 2018, June 17-20 in Boston!