The “Internet of things” (IoT) is becoming an increasingly growing topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it. It’s a concept that not only has the potential to impact how we live but also how we work.
In simple terms, Internet of Things refers to devices that collect and transmit data via Internet. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020. The term has now given rise to new technologies like smart grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation and smart cities.
Kevin Ashton, co founder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, first mentioned the Internet of Things in a presentation he made to Procter & Gamble in 1999.
Although the concept wasn’t named until 1999, the Internet of Things has been in development for decades. The first Internet appliance, for example, was a Coke machine at Carnegie Melon University in the early 1980s. The programmers could connect to the machine over the Internet, check the status of the machine and determine whether or not there would be a cold drink awaiting them, should they decide to make the trip down to the machine. Even far back in 1974, ATMs are some of the first IoT objects.
IoT could support total services spending of $235 billion (around £155 billion, AU$320 billion) in 2016, up 22% from 2015, according to Gartner. The analyst company also thinks that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30% from 2015, and this number will reach 20.8 billion by 2020.
It’s predicted that there will be billions of devices on the IoT, but will the future really be like this? “There are good reasons to think that it won’t,” says Michael Barkway, consultant at The Technology Partnership (TTP), who think it’s the web’s cheap ‘many-to-one’ model that has driven revolutionary change. “For the IoT, the cost model is many-to-many, and the issue of who pays makes a pivotal difference.” With many suppliers, standards and technologies in a complicated market, the IoT will grow – but slowly.
“Lofty outlooks will only come true if companies stop focusing on selling the IoT product, and start demonstrating and selling the long-term value of the services enabled by it,” says John Phillips, VP of Europe, Zuora, who stresses that Nest isn’t just a thermostat, it’s a central nervous system for a house.
“In the next twelve months, data through fibre will become as important as electricity through copper,” says Phillips, “making the IoT narrative shift from product to the value of their ongoing service, as companies use data to meet the service-oriented expectations of their customers.”
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