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.