The Internet of Things Is Bigger than Texting Refrigerators and Fitbit

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    How to Effectively Manage the Internet of Things

    People really don’t get the Internet of Things (IoT). It astonishes me how far behind the non-tech press is on this issue.

    For instance, this week, I was reading through a long and pretty impressive list of headlines about the IoT. There were articles about IoT in manufacturing, health care, supply chain management, operations, senior care, mobile and so on. Several articles named IoT players from top-notch companies, such as Cisco, Intel, Samsung, Google, GE and Ford, to name a few.

    Then right smack in the middle was this: “The Internet of Things is Apparently a Real Thing,” written on a website development firm’s blog.

    I had to LOL. I mean, I actually laughed out loud at the extreme disconnect between that title and the surrounding articles.

    Oddly, despite the fact that many established and international firms — again, we’re talking names like Cisco, GE, Intel, IBM, Microsoft — have been investing in the IoT for the past two to five years, for some reason now that Google has bought Nest, it’s time to take this thing seriously, I guess.

    Oh well. They say the first step is acceptance, right?

    Well, if that’s true, then the second step must be way underestimating the implications of IoT. For many people, even serious folks like editorialists at Bloomberg View, the IoT is here, but it’s for appliances and other cute tech tricks that will help “lazy shoppers.”

    “The internet of things is when your fridge keeps track of your milk supplies, or you tell your oven that you’re headed home and it’s time to heat up that casserole, or your library lamp senses that there’s no-one in the room and it should turn itself and the stereo off,” writes Mark Gilbert, a member of Bloomberg View’s editorial board and a columnist for the site. “Regardless of whether you view that as utopian or dystopian, it’s coming.”

    Gilbert looks at how a consumer tech firm and a mobile company plan to use the IoT, which is fine, but then he actually says “it’s easier for lazy shoppers to buy their gadgets online and have them delivered. So the best opportunity for Dixons is in bigger smart appliances—fridges, cookers, or 60-inch televisions—which people are at least more likely to want to discuss with a salesperson, rather than a web site.”

    Let’s just set the record straight now: The Internet of Things already exists. What’s more, the past few years have already demonstrated that the uses for IoT already outrank Fitbit and texting refrigerators. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those, and yes, I do want a texting refrigerator because grocery shopping is tedious.)

    More significantly, the IoT is not about devices. That sounds strange, but what it’s really about is the data those devices deliver and how that data can be used to solve long-standing business problems. It will be easy to plop on some Wi-Fi sensors; it will not be so easy to leverage that data in a meaningful way.

    For example, UPS didn’t put sensors on its delivery trucks just for the heck of it. They leveraged the data collected from those sensors to determine the most efficient way to deliver packages and found a yearly savings of $14.5 million in gas costs.

    It’s time to catch up on the realities of the IoT. If you need help jump-starting your thinking on this, you can read some of the links I’ve provided. You could also peruse Thursday’s Information Week’s recent piece, “Internet of Things: 8 Pioneering Ideas.”

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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