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This is the Year



The year 2014 may go on record for several things, but we can bet this will be the first year in which inanimate objects generate more data than humans do. Our world is being transformed by the “Internet of Things,” and it is very exciting to witness. This is the first installment of a multi-part blog series that addresses this topic. I’d like to invite you to join in the conversation as we address where the Internet of Things is heading, what it means to you and me, and what every IT department can learn from its progress.





First things, first



What is the Internet of Things? Good question – it depends who you ask. In simplest terms, the Internet of Things is a mechanism in which objects seamlessly connect to networks. Here are some fun examples:


·         Smart LED lights that can be controlled over a wireless network. Not only do they save you money, they also instantly transform your living room into a cool lounge.

·         Vending machines that dispense products based on who you are. Olympics fans might remember this gem from Sochi – a vending machine that reads passports and dispenses beer… if you’re Canadian.

·         Sensors that monitor your heart rate, movement and sleep, connected to systems that can analyze and share that information.


How big of a deal is the Internet of Things? And how might it affect you?


Simply put, it’s going to be huge. Last November, Gartner went on record to say the Internet of Things will have 26 billion “things” by 2020. Some analysts believe that number will exceed 50 billion things in that timeframe. That’s a lot of connected stuff, and it comes with incredible potential.


For consumers, the Internet of Things promises a better, easier life. Connected things (appliances, devices, sensors, and so on) allow you to have control over your life and lifestyle, no matter where you are. I can control my alarm system and thermostat from half a world away – as long as I have internet access. Last year, I installed a Nest thermostat in my house. I am still surprised that something so simple and taken for granted in my home could become something I now think of as “cool.” Not only have I grown to appreciate this previously ignored device, its ability to sense and respond to my daily routines and preferences has already led to some tidy energy savings.   


Enterprises of all types will see their world change. From sensors that monitor shipping inventory, to remote patient monitoring systems, to new types of point-of-sale payment, to digital signage – enterprises will be able to engage customers and suppliers in new ways, do business in locations once thought impossible, and do it all with less investment and expense.


For enterprises and consumers, many aspects of life, work, learning, and playing will be re-examined. Underappreciated things will be given new purpose and abilities. New things, designed with freedom of access and built-in consumer or enterprise insights, will be introduced. The possibilities for innovation and even reinvention are truly amazing.


What’s next in this blogging series?


I hope you’re as excited about how the dawn of connected things might change the way you work and live. Up next, I’ll share some thoughts on what really powers the Internet of Things. From there, I’ll talk about how we can apply what we’ve learned to IT – even when we’re not directly interacting with “things.”  


In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. What connected “things” have you brought into your home? What “things” would you like to see in the near future? Tweet me with your thoughts at @billemmett000 and don’t forget to use the #IoT hashtag.