Internet of Things (IOT)

Claim your place in the interconnected world

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More and more the world is becoming more and more one big cloud of interconnections. Sensors, people, cars, devices and even complete infrastructures are being connected to one another at an ever-increasing rate. IoT in combination with artificial intelligence keeps a new world running: the Instrumented Planet.

This the lesson of IBM’s Research Technology Vision, the annual report, which describes and explains current and (near) future trends. This year five themes were identified, which mutually complement and strengthen one another. From ‘AI Everywhere’ to the ‘Instrumented Planet’, in which – thanks to technology – we can make everything we do smarter, safer, more efficient and more effective. Our work, our society, organizations, living environment and – not least – our personal lives.

Five themes

The first of the five themes described in the IBM Research Technology Vision is ‘AI Everywhere’. Every industry or activity gradually gains a certain level of artificial intelligence. Our researchers expect that half of all mobile applications will be supported by AI this year.

The second theme is ‘Deeper Insight’. The core question here is how you can convert data to information and then derive wisdom from it. A great deal more data will come from the Internet of Things (IoT). As of 2020, we expect 50 billion sensors to be active. By 2030,  this number will grow to 500 billion. The data generated by all these sensors must be processed.

‘Engagement Reimagined’ involves optimizing the interface between man and machines. Computer systems should be trained in such a way that they support the human thinking process. Think of the method in which people always look at things and then interpret them from a specific context. Neuromorphic chips, that work like the human brain, will help with this.

Whereas organizations have traditionally worked with target groups, with ‘Personalization at Scale’ the individual is the starting point. Technology ensures that people are provided the right support, offers or information. Think of personalized medicines, based on an individual’s DNA or the best offer thanks to machine learning and analysis of purchasing behaviour.

The last and perhaps the most exciting theme is the ‘Instrumented Planet’. This is about connecting everything to everything else in a secure and adequate manner in such a way that we can create useful information from all this data. Security is extremely important here. It should be impossible for an autonomous car or your personal data to be hacked.


The emphasis for all these themes is on the technology-enabled impact on organization’s business models, with a primary role for IoT and AI. These trends are no longer the domain of startups and scale-ups. Incumbents and other traditional companies are catching up fast. Download the IBV study Incumbents Strike Back here. They copy the behavior of data and technology-driven newcomers by using the same technologies. But also by collaborating with them or simply taking them over. A large part of the distinctive value of incumbents lies in the fact that 80 per cent of their data cannot be ‘googled’, but lies behind the organization’s firewall. Thus they combine the technology and the nimbleness of the startups and scale-ups, while simultaneously using their existing power, data and customer base.

In short, these five thematic trends collectively create a beckoning perspective for large organisations. These organizations must be willing to modify in order to incorporate this: short-cycle thinking, embracing agile work methods, design thinking, being able to build prototypes and minimum viable products within two weeks. Supported by the right technology.


The foundation is comprized of artificial intelligence in combination with other applications for collecting and processing large quantities of data – preferably delivered from the cloud. All this provides deeper insight into and can help people make or support decisions, whether these are complex decisions or not. Think of robotization and process automation, but also of chatbots, virtual agents and other forms of intelligent help that are becoming smarter and smarter. This augmented intelligence involves supporting the human thinking process when taking decisions.

For example, new sensor technology in the smartphone may be able to determine if you have specific pathogens, or are susceptible to disorders. IoT sensors in and above ground on vinyards help achieve more effective irrigation, by linking the information they produce to weather data and satellite photos. Cars are becoming more and more autonomous and will soon be able to communicate with their managers, the environment and other vehicles with minimum latency. Again: this imposes stringent requirements on the data quality and on the security of the data. A hack of control software can have far-reaching consequences.

Blockchain can also be useful in a world of shared data. This makes it possible to create so-called permission networks, that can only be accessed by a specific group of users. Blockchain can also improve the security of communication between sensors.

Systems thinking

Thus, the Instrumented Planet runs on data and intelligence in a connected world. Companies can search for new connections and in return, claim their role in the value chain. Organizations and individuals will be judged based on their unique specializations. Successes  will increasing be shared throughout the entire value chain. CIOs, CTOs, CDOs and CEOs must in their turn carefully consider their future business model and how technology can contribute to this.

Cooperation between technology and business is becoming increasingly important. Everyone needs to understand better how technology works and what impact it can have on their business models. Therefore, you must always keep the appropriate capabilities in your own organization at strategic and tactical level, and, in addition, seek cooperation with the right innovative parties in the market. IBM is the only IT company in the world that cover the entire playing field – from nanotechnology to business solutions and everything in between. Think of business model innovation, dealing with new trends and developments, knowledge of work methods such as DevOps, Agile and design thinking. Platforms for artificial intelligence and IoT. Welcome to the Instrumented Planet!

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