I was googling today to see how different groups defined the Internet of Things (IOT). It was interesting how all of the definitions seemed to miss what the Internet of Things really will be and what it will mean to all of us. The focus seemed to be more around connectivity than around the impact that IOT will have.
I thought of an analogy that really seemed to drive home the potential impact to all of us. Remember back in the "olden days" when we would mail a letter, mail an order or deliver an invoice, or write a memo for an admin to deliver to a coworker? How long was the turn around time for a simple communication -- days or sometime weeks?
Then along came email. We now can exchange information in seconds, and get responses instantly. We can make complete information exchanges that previously took an extended period of time instantly.
So where are we with "things" today? We're in the pre-email phase. We either don't collect information or we collect it with visual readings of meters, documented on paper, and placed into a binder on the cabinet shelf. Analytics are non-existent or historical in nature.
Think of what will happen when "things" are connected and can send information at whatever interval they need to. Think about what can happen when that data can be immediately analyzed to determine the operational efficiency and to drive actions to resolve any issues -- all in near real time. We've talked about refrigerators and washing machines, but to me those make really neat demos, but don't drive the real value we'll see as "everything" becomes connected and can send data that can be aggregated to determine trends and root causes in ways that never were before possible.
Also recognize the impact that this electronic communication has had on traditional mail delivery and on industries that were targeted at "paper data collection". We'll likely see new industries emerging, and expectations around "instantaneous information exchange" as the norm.
The transition to IOT will happen quickly and the impact will be huge. And while the analogy to email is a strong one on the positive side, we'll also see many of the issues and concerns we see (and hate with email as well). Security will be critical both in assuring that the device we're talking to is the device we're think we're talking to, and assuring we're not overwhelmed with "unused" data. To be successful we must assure that data is turned into "actionable information".