What’s in a name? In case you have not noticed the name change to the Internet of Things is full of concept nuances. As always, the opinions expressed here are my own, and I will warn you full of leaps of logic that to me sound logical and intuitive. To you they may sound like wishful thinking. It will probably be a little of both.
Sensors and devices have been used in all sorts of vertical markets for decades. Depending on the vertical, the terms might be different: cold chain, logistics, medical equipment, point of sale, and telematics.
Candidly, a lot of credit has to be given to everyone who found the way to service all these different businesses from a single company.
However, as the ability to use data on mobile became more common, the carriers found themselves being drawn into supporting the mobile machines. M2M as a term fit the carriers’ purposes well, but the term was about the technology and its application.
As mobile machines become more adaptable, the opportunities became more about the applications. Fitness from smartwatches, drones with cameras, and hobbyist devices fueled the maker movement. They also were full of alternative transport solutions like asynchronous media storage, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Unlike decades before, the dilemma of gathering all these things in one common concept had the benefit of full Internet connectivity.
Now that the concepts are under the common umbrella of the Internet of Things, the changes are still specific to applications and opportunities.
Conceptually this has meant the carrier has lost the focus of attention, but gained access to a larger market. The fact that we can talk about autonomous automobiles, the Industrial Internet, and wearable technology as all being part of the Internet of Things is a logical evolution.
However, with the common term comes the problem of search terms being too generic. With three-fourths of a billion sites on the Internet per Google, the purpose of this magazine, our events, and website is still the same: To provide the relevant information that can help readers make better business decisions.
For business, though, the consumer market may be leading the way. Speaking with friends like Jon Boeing of Samsung and Donald Light of Celent, the consumer side of the IoT concept has the benefit of mass appeal. While a medical device may save more lives, it is less likely to cross over into other verticals, because it will not be well enough understood by anyone other than the technicians. To the patient it may just appear magical, as Guy Kawasaki would say.
Consumer adoption, on the other hand, has the benefit of word of mouth and general acceptance. The magic now looks adaptable to other applications. This is also fueled by the consumer experience of smartphone applications. The barriers to entry keep eroding, and the opportunities become more prevalent. We have a top-down approach that still is driven by ROI and regular business processes for big business that can look daunting and delayed, and a bottom-up consumer approach that looks like startups can be brought to market and worth billions in no time. I recently talked to a few doctors who were getting HIPPA IT support remotely. A business I thought would always want a throat to choke accepted the use of chat rooms and remote access. This means a rollup can occur in the VAR/systems integrator business as well.
A great example of these evolutionary trends is happening in the automotive industry. Ford (https://developer.ford.com/) has been running AppLink hackathons that make the company’s Sync software solution available to all sorts of entertainment and applications, while the use of Distribute Systems Technology and other collision detection strategies have been slower to gain market adoption. Autonomous automobiles are going to be a reality, but in the mean time we may crash from distraction from our entertainment.
The point of this article is that a wide variety of dynamics are at work. When we talk about the Internet of Things, we may have come to a universally accepted term, but it still does little to show how it applies to you. It is my hope that we continue to help you separate what’s applicable to you, your business and your life, from what is clever but not applicable.
Edited by Maurice Nagle