Well, searching for a definition on the latest in technology known as the Internet of Things (I o T) results in only a few definitions that satisfy the query.
Gartner describes the Internet of Things this way: “The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects that contains embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with the objects’ internal state or the external environment.”
Microsoft’s description takes an opportunistic tone with ‘The Internet of Things (I o T) is not a futuristic technology trend: it’s the first step in becoming a truly digital business and it starts with your things—your line-of-business assets and the data they produce, your cloud services, and your business intelligence tools. That’s the Internet of Your Things. By implementing a strategy to capitalize on the Internet of Things trend, you can stop just running your business and start making it thrive.”
As a business owner or entrepreneur, the latest advances in technology are not always top-of-mind because you are busy. With only minutes a day to cover current events and news that is relevant to your business, anything beyond your daily to-do list is put off or lost all together.
To make it simple, here are the top 5 things of interest for the Internet of Things:
- Not Innovation but Adoption and Expansion
A new acronym making its debut is II o T. That’s Industrial Internet of Things, and although the acronym might be new, in the industrial world, the practice is essentially a quarter-century old. In the Forbes.com article “Internet of Things? We’ve Been Doing That for 25 Years,” Peter Zornio, CSO of Emerson Process Management, is “bemused” by the hype and cites the practice of connected “smart” machines and devices having been used for years in industry.
“The Internet of Things is not new. For the past 25 years — ever since the development of microprocessors and network-based instruments — companies in the process industries such as oil and gas, chemicals, refining, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and mining have been avidly exploring how to use sensors to make their processes more reliable, efficient and safe.”
This practice of connecting “things” to each other with a network has merely been given a buzz-term that is becoming mainstream but has been around for a long time. The difference is the expansion to the consumer market.
2. Security: The Next Big “Thing”
Certainly, most people who are just jumping on the bandwagon of the I o T discussion are curious, interested, and even fearful of the risk factors relative to their privacy. The Federal Trade Commission’s report offering up a slew of “concrete steps” businesses should take to protect their consumer’s privacy and security has been available for years. Enterprise and consumer alike are adopting the universe of connected devices so rapidly that the FTC felt it necessary to offer a workshops back in 2013.
There is good news coming from an unexpected place. Engadget.com reports that Blackberry is already making plans to corner the market on security. Blackberry, formerly Research in Motion, made its mark as the most secure of all handheld devices back in the day (more than 30 years ago). The Canadian company has big plans to take advantage of the “insecurity” that is top-of-mind for those at risk of breaches via the I o T – which is everyone, really.
3. Machines with Sensors are Not Machines
The buzz related to the Internet of Things conversation starts with the idea of machine-to-machine communication or M2M. But Wired.com makes a great distinction here. Machines with sensors are no longer machines. When a so-called machine can measure and evaluate, it’s no longer just operating, it’s now considered “smart!”
In the Wired.com article “The Internet of things is far bigger than anyone realizes,” Daniel Burrus of Burrus Research, shows us an example of what is possible when this adoption of innovation catches wind. Consider the introduction of smart materials like concrete. Imbedded with sensors, Burrus introduces the idea of smart concrete that can send an alert when something is about to fail due to exceeding useful load. Imagine materials with a brain that can sense a customer’s initial emotional response to your product or service? Now that is innovation!
4. Out of the box for the SMB?
Think about your business and how much more you could make of it if every “thing” you use in your operation could gather and analyze data? Take a minute – let your mind consider the endless opportunities to increase your business intelligence. When every object or even material (smart concrete is just the beginning) has potential to sense and communicate, there are very few limits to what we can learn about customer experience (read about being customer-centric to gain competitive advantage[DE1] ). The possibilities include developing our devices or machines to run more efficiently, or even monitoring employee interactions with the public to see where our business falls short.
Although this all sounds good, rules are imminent when the consumer enters into the game. Read about the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) rules surrounding Net Neutrality and Small Business in Denver.
5. The I o T and Social Media
The social implications of expanding from one or two connected devices to a true digital ecosystem takes competition between companies to a new level. The first adopters win in this arena. Obtaining accurate information (intelligence) by leveraging and measuring in the social media realm has been a consistent pain-point for marketing. The implications of the I o T becoming social are not certain, but it is reasonable to assume the touch-point opportunities in the consumer market will drive business models with solid data – something marketing departments will be happy to leverage. Understanding the relationship between products and their users in a meaningful way will automatically drive businesses to deliver what the customer wants in real-time.
An interesting read from The Internet of Things Council, a think tank comprised of a “loose group” of professionals based in Dubai: “5 Ways the Internet of Things Will Change Social Media.”
The evolution of digital no longer seems to incite fear and uncertainly as it once did back in 1962 when J.C.R. Licklider first presented his memos to the world on the idea of an “intergalactic computer network.”
There will always be first-adopters of the latest innovations as well as those who wait to see what happens to everyone else before jumping on the bandwagon. As a business owner, the accountability is high so it makes sense that entrepreneurs are likely the latter rather than the former. To use an old phrase made famous by the cigarette company Virginia Slims, “we’ve come a long way baby.”