An Internet of Things Primer

“The Internet of Things (IoT), which excludes PCs, tablets and smartphones, will grow to 26 billion units installed in 2020 representing an almost 30-fold increase from 0.9 billion in 2009…IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion…The growth in IoT will far exceed that of other connected devices.”

– Gartner Group

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of machines or objects outfitted with data-collecting technologies so that those objects can communicate with one another. The machine-to-machine (M2M) data that is generated has a wide range of uses, but is commonly seen as a way to determine the health and status of things– inanimate or living.

Eventually, the status may be used to make some basic decisions, and the Internet of Things, also affectionately termed The Internet of Everything in popular advertising, will change everything, by revolutionizing the way that we operate much like the wireless and internet revolutions of recent tech cycles.

The internals of IoT is based on the concept that one or more small RFID tags may be placed in almost any “thing.” If the tags then collect data, and the data is “read” by readers that are placed everywhere, then you create an ecosystem of players who participate in three ways:

IoT 3 Ways

This means there will be players who make the generic and specialized chip sets and to gather information from various sensors, players who send the data gathered to whomever registers interest it and others who then perform the analysis.

I find the milk jug analogy explains this ecosystem best. If I buy milk and my refrigerator can “read” that it is in the fridge, and my recycle bin can read that the same milk jug has been recycled, presumably my milk jug can “re-order” another jug of milk on my behalf from the same store. All
the things that I need that day may be ordered at that grocery store for me, for pick up, if they all had tags, and were “read” as being exhausted on their trip from the fridge to the recycle bin or garbage. Of course a car may well drive itself to my home to drop off my purchases, just to make the pick-up process easier.  I get my things and am “auto-billed” for them when I get them, because a reader conveniently notes when they arrive in my home.

And the process begins anew.

Companies will need to find new technologies to deal with larger streams of real time data and support their Enterprise in deriving the new business processes and use cases surrounding this economy. They will need to determine Key Performance Indicators to better reflect business performance in an economy that is more driven by communicating things, and more sophisticated algorithms for decision support with the data that is available, so that our “things” can make good decisions with each other for us.

In the final analysis, the IoT will cause the removal of the need for people to control interactions, and businesses to control interactions. It will mean that things talk to things and make decisions for us, which will push our decision making up to a whole new level.

The social implications are, of course, staggering, as society grapples with a change in where they place their energy.  There are implications on security of our funds, privacy, and the labor force, just to name a few. As with any lasting technology disruption, it will displace our current way of doing things, with a new way of doing things that becomes pervasive and as natural as breathing.

The transition will have its frustrations, and the future is uncertain, but as with any worthwhile transition, the pain will be worth the gain, and the human race will be able to focus themselves on higher order endeavors while we leave our things to concentrate on the tasks that they are capable of doing for themselves.

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