In case you haven’t heard the Internet of Things is now, according to Gartner’s annual report, the most hyped technology, and has even replaced Big Data to claim that distinction. Indeed, we hear more and more nowadays about this new technological paradigm. In a nutshell, Internet of Things is about connecting everyday daily household objects such as television sets, cars, homes, kitchen appliances, to the web to create ubiquitous communications.
The Internet of Things really represents the next iteration of the internet, or as sometimes it’s called, Web 3.0, and some are predicting that this will be bigger than anything we’ve seen so far. Cisco has readily embraced the whole Internet of Things movement. CEO John Chambers claims IoT will have five to 10 times the impact on society as the Internet itself and is projecting a $19 trillion dollar market for this industry over the next decade. We’ve seen some early commercial successes like the Nest thermostat, Fitbit, and many are readily anticipating the Apple Watch to also be a big conduit for IoT.
We get the idea that IoT will be huge, but what we really want to know more specifically is how it will transform the way we do business. What are some of the things that startup owners, entrepreneurs, and CIOs of enterprises need to be paying attention to in 2015 as IoT takes off? There are a number of ways that IoT will impact your business. Here are some of the most salient ones to consider.
More Data: We’ve heard a lot about Big Data in recent years and companies have been scrambling to get onboard and figure out how to manage all their disparate information. Well, if you amplify this tenfold, then you’re approaching something comparable to what IoT will become. As one source describes, “It is taking internet to another level: connecting things and making sense of the data coming in, while sending actions back out to optimize things.” With more devices connected to the Internet, companies will truly have a flood of data to access and try to use to maximize their bottom line. Therefore, the onus is really on companies of all sizes to become conversant in how to collect, prepare, analyze, and visualize various types of data (structured, semi-structured, and unstructured).
Focus on Services: In an article on this topic, Raj Badarinath, senior director of product marketing at commerce solutions provider Avangate, believes that the new IoT era will introduce a fundamental new business model away from the traditional focus on hardware to services on top of that hardware. He states: “In the IoT era, new models such as subscriptions, freemiums and bundles are rapidly becoming the preferred choice over traditional hardware options. Services are easily upgradeable, much more amenable to ecosystems that are constructed around hardware, and provide multiple revenue opportunities rather than a one-time sale.” Again, data will become critical to this new business model, and this will mean gaining a 360 degree view of the customer in ways that will keep them happy and engaged.
New Paradigm in MDM and Device Management: If you consider the “consumerization of IT” trends over the past 5 years and the way that BYOD has transformed the enterprise with support now available for iOS, Windows, and Android devices, then you can amplify that ten-fold to get an idea of what will be required for managing IoT in the years ahead. Mobile Device Management platforms will become more agile as they extend their functions to managing a wide-range of IoT-connected devices. All of these devices, however, will become known as endpoints and the new management paradigm will shift to one called “Unified Endpoint Management” (UEM).
The End of the App as We Know It? In order for the internet to support the immense amount of data and instant connectivity the current standards and protocols will have to change. With the increase in the number of ‘smart’ devices connecting to the web, it will no longer be realistic for each one to be controlled by an app. Something has to fundamentally change. This past fall Google kicked off its Physical Web project, which gives a preview of what it sees as the next generation Internet. The basic idea behind the Physical Web is that it calls for a fundamental new way to interact with the internet using URLs. According to the Github page on this topic, the URL is the fundamental building block of the web, giving remarkable flexibility of expression. It can be:
- a web page with just a tiny paragraph of info
- a fully interactive web page
- a deep link into a native application
Imagine the possibilities that will open up through URL-based links to everyday devices along with machine-to-machine communications. Imagine a world in which almost every surface or object conveys some kind of connectivity:
- Bus stops that display when the next bus is coming
- Vending machines that accept payment via a cashless tap (and send you a receipt)
- Movie posters that provide extras such as previews or trivia quizzes
The main point here is that the Internet of Things will open up unforeseen opportunities for businesses of all sizes to experiment with new forms of innovation and creativity.
Based on all the signs we’re seeing in the market, 2015 should be an important time to start evaluating your strategies in the areas of Big Data and mobile management. How are you leveraging these current technologies and what do you need to prepare for the IoT-connected economy? What will be your approach to Apple Watch and BYOW (“Bring Your Own Wearables”)? The Internet of Things represents a goldmine of new opportunities for businesses to grow and scale. While this transformation will ultimately make everyone’s lives easier on many levels, it will also mean that folks will have to work harder and smarter to keep ahead of the competition and avoid the pending disruptions that will shape and change every industry as we know it. This means that startups and small business owners need to act with urgency and develop strategies to leverage and get onboard with the latest advances in IoT. Make 2015 the pivotal year for getting started on this path!