I outlined a simple definition for the Internet of Things (IoT):
“A system of connected Things capable of one-way or two-way interactions using a common framework, designed for systemic intelligence to achieve greater human good and / or for a broader business purpose.”
Here are some aspects of this definition to keep in mind when embarking down the IoT path.
A system of connected Things
- Traditionally, the things in an IoT system are intended to represent physical objects. Given the rate of technology progression, this seems limiting when the very definition of physicality is being called into question with the emergence of virtual reality and artificial environments. I prefer to leave the definition of a Thing open and not limited to physical objects. Also, IoT also requires the things to be interconnected in a meaningful way.
- Just sticking a sensor on a thing does not make for an IoT system. For instance, traditional network routers involved in sending/receiving network packets come equipped with sensors. These sensor-ed network routers standing on their own have little to no value. It is when they are connected and form part of a network that their true value is realized.
Capable of one-way or two-way interactions
- Each Thing in an IoT system must be capable of being able to transmit and / or receive a payload of data. If the Thing is not capable of these actions, it is “dumb” and not a part of the IoT system.
- The intelligence of an IoT system particularly comes to prominence when the network is able to communicate back and forth with the individual things in the system.
Using a common framework
- All of the Things in an IoT system must be able to communicate within a common framework. There must be a very clear communication protocol in place that defines what the format of the payload looks like when Things communicate. This framework needs to be agreed upon and designed ahead of time for a successful IoT implementation.
- As in the real world, where English, German, Spanish offer different modes of communicating between groups of humans, so also the language or protocol within different IoT systems may vary. This is ok. As the IoT ecosystem grows, each part of the overall ecosystem will define a specific model of system communication.
Systemic intelligence to achieve greater human good and / or for a broader business purpose
- Connecting a variety of Things through a common framework is merely the first step in an IoT roadmap strategy. It is estimated that by 2025 computers will have the same computing power as the human brain. IoT systems that are designed from the ground up to take advantage of this computing power through the use of Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud technologies – The SMAC Stack – will operate at a superior level relative to other systems.
- With strong analytic abilities and unlimited computing power, comes great responsibility. A systemically intelligent IoT system will require rules and guidelines to ensure proper operation. Security protocols/procedures and governance models need to be instituted within the IoT system to ensure correct operation.
- Ultimately, the value of IoT is fully realized when the system is intelligent and able to make self-selected and independent decisions removed from humans.
In the next set of posts,I will outline IoT use cases in various industries and operational models that go into making an IoT strategy successful.