Heard about IoT but not sure what it means and why you should care? Read on!
I have worked in information technology across several industries for over thirty years, and in that time have seen many technologies that promised radical change: 4th Generation programming languages, Client-Server (Distributed) Computing and Object Orientated Design and Development. These innovations have all pedalled their hype-cycles from Inflated Expectation to rampant Productivity, and beyond. Its arguable that their industrial impact and interest beyond that of its implementers, has been limited. However, the Internet of Things may appear to be another over-hyped IT-led topic, but I believe it is different. It is a game changer.
What is IoT?
Internet of Things is a generic term for both a set of technologies, and the changes to industry value-chains that they can bring.
- The technologies – devices applied to the human worlds of business, industry, home, leisure, and health which are connected via the Internet to each other and traditional IT systems. The communication and control is two-way and real-time.
- IoT drives value via the use of IoT devices, the data they collects, the messages the send and receive, all to provide faster, better, cheaper, or new value-adding processes wherever it they are applied.
This is certainly a broad and somewhat vague definition, but it is intentionally so. IoT as a phenomenon is immature, especially in terms of the change it can drive.
Industrial, electronic and other engineering disciplines are responding to the application of Moore’s Law to the shrinking cost of embedding IoT devices into every manufactured device, from ovens to running shoes. All of this create large volumes of data, which is given meaning by modern real-time analytics which in turn use machine learning to recognise multiple patterns of trigger and response.
No one can predict how IoT-driven value will be created, achieved and measured. At the moment the focus is on how it will be enabled, with the low-cost and pervasive roll-out of devices across virtually all industries. To return to the example of devices being put into ovens and running shoes, adding IoT technology to many products is driven by this unpredictability, this chance. Product designers don’t know exactly what value will pay for the incremental cost of including an IoT device, but it is a relatively low cost insurance policy against their products becoming obsolete or otherwise uncompetitive if they cannot behave in a connected way.
So IoT is a new thing, but how is this different to any of the other technology-driven revolutions we’ve lived through? We all need to review our businesses and try to predict how our competitors will use it to disrupt our industries – is it different this time?