The Internet of Things is a curious name for what happens when objects other than computers, start to become electronically networked. With this capability we might take sensor data from them, to monitor our world and optimise things more effectively. We might be able to control objects remotely from afar. We might might send software updates to objects in order to upgrade their performance or add new functions.
To call this wonderful new world an Internet of Things is entirely accurate. It helps us discriminate a phase of innovation that is genuinely new, from that which has already happened. First we had an internet of connected computers – our PCs, laptops and servers. Then, via technologies like Smartphones, Facebook and Twitter we created an internet of connected people. Now, because of Moore’s law and its continuing miniaturising and cost reducing effects, we can start to embed processing power, memory and connection directly into everyday things. What things? Cars, wind turbines, tennis raquets, lamp posts, trash bins, dresses.. the list of things being connected is in fact endless.
Though the term Internet of Things is accurate, it is rather detached and it omits a key ingredient: a sense of ownership. It makes it sound as if this will all just happen, as a result of some exogenous force. However there is no Fairy of the Silicon Valley, flitting around the world with her magic wand connecting things. It won’t happen unless we make it happen. Technologits have made it possible, but you have to make it happen. Becuase every single thing, in the internet of things – is some company’s product. The CEO of that company must decide when the time is right to start connecting his or her products, then create the capability to do so.
For now, the market has decided it likes the term Internet of Things, so that is what we all be reading about and saying for the next couple of years. However, when you hear those words, make a point to correct them in your mind. It is an internet of products. Doing that, will gently remind you there is an action point pending on your strategy ‘to do’ list. Sooner or later it will need to be an internet of your products too.