By John Kell and Alan Murray
July 30, 2015

Earlier this week, we cited a white paper from Tata Consulting Services on how the Internet of Things is transforming global business. I’ve now read it, and recommend it to everyone interested in the subject – which should include anyone running a bigger-than-a-breadbox business.

 

The first big takeaway: the Internet of Things is not some futurist’s pipe dream, but happening here and now. Tata found 26 companies that will spend over a billion dollars each on Internet of Things applications this year. That’s real money. It includes companies tracking their customers’ behavior through mobile apps; monitoring the flow of their own supplies and products; gathering real time data from sensors on how products are performing and whether equipment needs maintenance; and using digital cameras, sensors and other devices to track activities on business premises or elsewhere.

 

The second big takeaway: We’ve barely scratched the surface of potential applications, which eventually will create new products, increase revenues, improve productivity, disrupt business models, and change the way our economy operates. We are still babes in the woods.

 

I was particularly impressed by the paper’s ranking of “success factors” that determine how well a company will do in seizing the opportunities. As this newsletter has noted before, most of them involve people skills, not technical skills – making smart strategic choices about which technologies to adopt, creating the right corporate culture to allow for change, developing new processes to take advantage of real-time information. At the moment, our technological capabilities are clearly running ahead of human and organizational capabilities. (Related reading: our August cover story, Humans are Underrated.)

 

Many companies appear to be in the same fix we find ourselves in at Fortune. We have massive amounts of real-time data about how our digital products are being used by readers. But we’ve barely begun to turn that data into insights that we can use to rapidly refine our products and services. As at many big companies, the technology revolution is here; but management practices and workplace processes and culture are still rooted in the Ancien Regime.

 

More news below.

 

 

 

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

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