The Internet of Things (IoT): The Best is Yet to Come

Is IoT overhyped or underestimated? The answer depends on if you are talking about the Integration of Everything.

By Chris Witeck

The Internet of Things (IoT): Overhyped or Underestimated?

"This wave of technology has more chance of reimagining whole swathes of the world than anything we've seen before, this is really going to disrupt everything." -Tim O'Reilly

Recently Tim O'Reilly participated in an interview in which he opined that "Silicon Valley is massively underestimating the impact of IoT". That is an interesting perspective. How can you claim the impact of IoT is underestimated when so much hype is being extended to IoT? Cisco predicts in their 2015 Visual Networking Index study that we will go from 14.2 billion connected devices at the end of 2014 to 24.4 billion by the end of 2019, with the fastest growth (26% CAGR) coming from machine-to-machine (M2M) devices. This doesn't sound like a market that is being underestimated. There is even talk that IoT is leading to another market bubble. Wouldn't this indicate the opposite, that in fact IoT is overhyped and overplayed right now?

What matters here is the context for how you frame the IoT opportunity. Often IoT is portrayed in narrowly defined scenarios that focus more on the technology itself and how a particular 'gadget' or 'thing' can add a new or interesting connection to a more individualistic setting (i.e. making your watch, your car, your thermostat, your home smarter). To move beyond this narrow view, the discussion needs to move broadly beyond things and more on how IoT can solve complex problems by integrating everything together.

The Real Opportunity for IoT: 'The Integration of Everything'

"Data is the oil of the 21st century. But oil is just useless thick goop until you refine it into fuel. And it’s this fuel – proprietary algorithms that solve specific problems that translate into actions – that will be the secret sauce of successful organizations in the future." -Peter Sondergarrd, Gartner

Changing the context from the 'Internet of Things' to the ‘Integration of Everything' really starts to paint the picture of just how transformative IoT can be. In this context, IoT will be the underpinning for a massive platform revolutionizing how new and legacy applications, sensors, things, gadgets, people, places, and businesses can easily and efficiently exchange information. Where IoT can help automate tasks/processes to create workflows that help people and organizations gain insights that they never could have acquired before. This is the real potential behind the Integration of Everything.

With this potential comes real challenges. Integrating the new (sensors, gadgets, mobile devices), the old (legacy applications, physical infrastructure) and all of the data will not come easy. In the Citrix 2020 Technology Landscape we talk about IoT will provide "The end of data entry and the need for data reduction" and how IoT represents "The biggest expansion of IT ever and the decentralization of computing". We are not stating that IT departments themselves will expand, but instead how IT will reach into every component of business operations. As this happens, the massive amounts of data generated will need to be managed efficiently and utilized effectively in order to make the effort worthwhile. This is something that Gartner referred to when they stated that "The Internet of Things will give rise to the algorithm economy".

The Integration of Everything, Perfect for the Enterprise

Large organizations are complex by nature, with complicated processes, a myriad of applications, databases and connections they are managing. The move to the cloud may have helped simplify much of what the Enterprise used to manage in house, but they are still working with a combination of both on and off premise systems and applications and managing the data that is generated. Adding to this complexity will be more data coming from new data collection points added in as new devices and sensors are added to the mix.

This complexity presents a perfect opportunity for the Integration of Everything to add value for the Enterprise by opening up new opportunities for automation, and providing new insights gained from analytics more comprehensive than anything the Enterprise has had access to before. There are already well detailed examples of how the Integration of Everything is changing industrial markets like mining, making our cities smarter, and transforming healthcare. These are great examples, but the opportunities in the Enterprise extend beyond these high profile use cases to every corner of the Enterprise. Just think of the potential offered by a smarter meeting room? How many of us have wasted time trying to start a meeting dealing with cables, screens, audio challenges and getting remote participants connected? Something that this video clearly illustrates. 

The Integration of Everything offers tremendous opportunity for the Enterprise, but the real question is what exactly does the Enterprise need to do to take advantage of these opportunities? The good news is that Citrix is moving forward with ideas and solutions to make this easier for everyone.

Introducing Octoblu: A platform for the Integration of Everything

"The beautiful thing about Octoblu is that it can connect just about any system to any other system via REST APIs in addition to connecting smart things and wearables. This makes it easier to add value to virtually any enterprise customer today by automating office workflows while future-proofing their company investments in IoT. Simple workflow automations equate to serious savings in enterprise efficiencies and can add satisfaction to customers by improving turn-around times.” Chris Matthieu Director of IoT Engineering for Citrix and Co-Founder of Octoblu

In late 2014 Citrix acquired Octoblu, an IoT platform focused on making it easy to connect anything and everything together. With Octoblu it is possible to connect sensors, applications and things across multiple protocols and APIs; design interactions for these connections simply and visually, and then deploy automated workflows in a public or private cloud deployment.

This makes it possible for the Enterprise to simply connect together many different disparate elements within their business through automated workflows, and leverage these workflows to better understand how their business operates. For example, Octoblu could watch for a specific event in SalesForce, or a cloud based storage solution and then trigger an API call into SAP or any other on-premises legacy application. As the enterprise becomes more IoT savvy, Octoblu can then be used to automate lights, security cameras, displays, audio, sensors, and almost any other digital thing.

One concern any IT administrator will have with IoT is backward and forward compatibility for all of the IoT capable elements spread across the organization. The Integration of Everything breaks down in a hurry if you are constantly running into compatibility issues trying to add applications and devices into your workflows. This is where the Octoblu platform shines. All of Octoblu’s core technologies are open source. This allows organizations themselves to contribute to the direction of the platform and continuously extend the list of supported APIs and devices. In doing so, any Enterprise can leverage a global developer ecosystem contributing to the platform. Octoblu is able to scale and keep pace with constantly changing environment and new innovations that the Enterprise must account for. All of this is available via a flexible platform that can be deployed in a SaaS model, on-premises or in a private/hybrid cloud allowing companies to scale their Octoblu services as needed.

Sound interesting? Octoblu is currently available as a beta if you want to give it a try.

You can also learn more about Octoblu by checking out this video.

Closing Comments: Citrix and the Integration of Everything

Just where does Octoblu fit into Citrix long term? As part of our vision for software defining the workplace, there are numerous synergies between the software defined workplace and the Internet of Things. That creates potential for Citrix to consider adding automation into our current product set, or to use Octoblu to add value to new product concepts (such as the Citrix Workspace Hub) or to add value to different industries (such as Education and Healthcare).

Another option is to make this great platform available to customers as a tool to help them accommodate the Integration of Everything directly into their own workflows. As we have discussed, the Internet of Things, Internet of Everything and the Integration of Everything has the potential to be transformative for all businesses, and our customers may need some help to prepare for this change. So stay tuned, with Octoblu and the Integration of Everything, the best is yet to come.

Chris Witeck is a Principal Technology Strategist with Citrix Labs. Citrix Labs is an applied research organization within Citrix. To get updates on what the Citrix Labs team is following as well as projects the Labs team is working on, you can subscribe to the Citrix Trends and Innovation LinkedIn page.

Chris Witeck
Witeck is is Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, @cwiteck

Will the Internet of Everything automate away good jobs?

"Have no fear. Do you really want to do the same thing over and over again every day like in the movie Groundhog Day?  Robots and automation frees us from these mundane tasks and lets us focus on more creative tasks.  Here’s a good article on “Five Things that Robots Can’t Do but People Can”. - Chris Matthieu Director of IoT Engineering for Citrix and Co-Founder of Octoblu