Here is something for which the folks who came up with the term “Internet of Things” can take credit: Unlike some other phrases, Internet of Things (IoT) is unapologetically vague. The only vaguer acronym would have been the “Internet of Lots of Stuff.” IoT is a lot more honest than other phrases and acronyms, which try to make their base concepts sound more fully formed than they are.
The result is usually development inertia, while the marketers try to stall and wait for the geeks to catch up. In the case of IoT, the hype and the reality seem to be more in sync. Indeed, IoT is hitting its stride.
Nothing says that better than Cisco jumping in. It has been involved, of course, but actually christening an IoT business unit is significant. The “Internet of Things Group” (I would have preferred “The Internet of Lots of Stuff Group”) was announced at the first Internet of Things World Forum this week in Barcelona, Spain. eWeek reports that the group will marry Cisco programs such as Connected Industries, Connected Energy and Physical Security. The general manager of the group will be Vice President Guido Jouret.
No matter what the name, the fact that the company sees the sector as a growth area is an understatement:
Cisco CEO John Chambers has said that by 2020, the Internet of everything will result in $14.4 trillion in profits for companies worldwide. Company officials have said that this year, private-sector businesses will generate as much as $613 billion in profits from the Internet of everything.
Cisco is not alone in thinking that a lot of potential—and, money, of course—exists in the IoT. Microprocessor company, ARM, commissioned an Economist Intelligence Unit survey on the topic. The result, “The Internet of Things Business Index: A Quiet Revolution Gathers Pace” shows that high-level executives see IoT as a game-changer. The key is that impact is expected on several parallel levels:
The report, sponsored by ARM, found that 75 percent of C-suite business leaders are actively researching opportunities created by the Internet of Things (IoT). The report also revealed that 30 percent of business leaders feel that IoT will unlock new revenue opportunities, but just as many (29%) believe it will inspire new working practices, eventually changing the model of how they operate (23%). The report concludes that the implementation of common standards will be paramount to enable communication between millions of connected devices and stop the ‘Internet of Silos.’
In her report on the survey, ZDNet’s Rachel King wrote that handling and subsequently utilizing data generated by IoT requires reliance on the cloud, mobile capabilities and social networking. In other words, IoT is not only promising financially, but brings fundamental change to organizations’ processes. The collar is that if IoT deeply establishes itself, businesses will have no choice but to get involved. Like with mobility, passively sitting on the sidelines would be a recipe for disaster.
The next step is to figure out what IoT actually is. Forbes’ Patrick Moorhead does a nice job of refining the concept. He breaks it down into Human IoT and Industrial IoT. Some high-profile initiatives, such as wearable computing, fit into the former. The latter is largely comprised of extraordinarily promising and, to most people, extraordinarily dull applications. Somehow, an undersea pipeline periodically pinging in its status (“Same as before: The pressure down here is very high, and everything is really wet”) is less compelling than a sweatband that tells the wearer how many calories he or she has burned.
Moorhead’s piece goes deeply into the weeds and touches on a variety of topics. They include market opportunity, product lifecycle, solution integration, security, human interaction, availability, access to the Internet, response to failures, network topologies and physical connectivity.
The IoT covers just about everything. For that reason, it is destined to be a huge part of the future of both IT and telecommunications. Organizations that understand this and begin preparations now will enjoy a valuable competitive advantage.