If you only watch one video in this post, I urge you to watch the last one.
The Internet of Things (IoT). One of the most written about developments in recent times. It’s one of those things that has been around in science fiction for decades, and on the ‘just around the corner’ roadmap for nearly as long. So it’s interesting to see that Vodafone and Huawei have opened a joint internet of things research lab. Interesting in the fact that much like hosted voice this shows that the global players are now investing serious time and resource into the development of something that, perhaps, we see has no immediate commercial benefit.
But it is important to understand what the IoT is made up from. There are actually 5 separate categories that make up the whole IoT, and it can be useful to understand what these are and how you can sell into them.
Information IoT; where it all started. Perhaps the granddaddy of the IoT as everything can boil down to the exchange of information in one form or another. But it is the consumption of that information on demand that defines this part of the IoT; gleaning information that is relevant to your needs where and when you want them. It is effectively what the mobile internet promised all those years ago with the Nokia 7110 and BT Cellnet.
Personal IoT; the Next Generation – The advent of smart watches really kick-started this next phase of the IoT, that of personal information. Not just location and status, which have been around since the Wireless Village days of pre-voice SIP enabled instant messaging on PC’s, but now how much energy you’ve expended on your morning run, your heart rate and of course, all of things that BT promised in the 1999 ad above, but now in a watch, able to beam that information back to your social media page, your home PC or your carefully selected friends. The more insidious aspect of this trend is personal blogging, or life blogging. Something that the ill-fated Google Glasses were heavily criticised for. The trend to record life around you and beam it to your followers caused quite a bit of upset, as the video below ably demonstrates.
Local IoT; not quite there yet – Applications tend to need a solid commercial rational that goes beyond simple curiosity to succeed. There are now applications being developed to show local businesses when their customers are in the locality so that they can reach out to them to let them know of discounts, available stock or space in their dining rooms. It does. However, need a shift in the perception of privacy before it will happen. At the moment you have to be logged into a location service and actively looking for something, a restaurant, a hairdressers and so on. However, good application development and a few open minded customers will start the shift to a much more personalised advertising experience. Not quite the dystopian vision of the video below.
Mobile IoT; Being sold today – We see Uber using the IoT to track their resources. In the enterprise sector Fleet management has become a huge advocate of the mobile IoT enabling not only real time location tracking, but facilitating non location based mileage tracking, intelligent routing, maintenance and response scenarios. As these solutions become more commercially viable through use and acceptance the applications will cascade through to more consumer based use.
Static IoT; an entry into SME– The static IoT is where the individual, who doesn’t want a smart watch, is likely to start. There are already multiple applications for the home and small office, with environment controls, such as Nest and the Samsung connected home, as well as security and monitoring solutions. There are so many solutions available, one such example in the video below. I am not endorsing any of these, merely illustrating the scope of choice that is already out there.
So what is it really?
The internet of things can be summarised as the integration of a useful application with a fixed point, ready to exchange information on demand. The common thread throughout all of these types of the internet of things is the data infrastructure, whether it be fixed or mobile.
The next stage will be autonomous things acting on a set of instructions of their own devising. Think of the Google Self driving car project, or personal robot assistants.
Not as far away as you might think