Estimates vary, but everyone agrees that the Internet of Things (IoT) potentially is worth a staggering amount of money. For instance, The McKinsey Global Institute released a report last month that pegged the potential value of the IoT category from $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion by 2025.
That’s a lot of Internet things. There is, however, an array of moving parts that must mesh in order to make it all work. If those things don’t click into place, the ambitious goals simply won’t be reached.
One of the keys is interoperability between the potentially billions of items that comprise this vast ecosystem. Interoperability issues are perhaps the biggest single challenge to the IoT. The alert at the McKinsey site to its study assigns a value to the issue:
Of the total potential economic value the IoT enables, interoperability is required for 40 percent on average and for nearly 60 percent in some settings.
Interoperability doesn’t need to be ubiquitous: A sensor in a refrigerator compressor need not talk to a sensor on an undersea cable. Rather, an overall taxonomy must be created that structures the communications and flow of data at a high level across this vast sector. If this doesn’t happen, the Internet of Things may melt down to become the Internet of Confusion.
The AllSeen Alliance, with help from Microsoft, took a step in the right direction this week with the introduction of the AllJoyn Device System Bridge (DSB). AllJoyn is one of the consortia creating interoperability standards. The DSB is significant in that it is an umbrella that aims to enfranchise devices using other approaches. The code used for the DSB was contributed by Microsoft.
Background on Microsoft’s involvement in AllJoyn is offered by TechRepublic’s Mark Kaelin. The bottom line is that Microsoft, by enfranchising AllJoyn in Windows 10, which was officially released last week, is getting a jump on Apple and Google. Indeed, he suggests that Microsoft may have found the tool to enable it to recapture past glories:
The way everything works is about to change because the IoT is about to become an everyday reality. By supporting the open-source standard that makes communication between things possible in Windows 10, Microsoft has positioned itself to be a prominent player.
Whether the IoT grows as its proponents expect will be the biggest story in the sector during the next few years. Whether Microsoft succeeds in using the IoT to make itself as indispensible as it was when PCs ruled the earth will be an interesting subplot.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.