• March 9, 2017

Bigger Than the Internet: The Next Game Changer

IoT will have a greater impact on the enterprise than even the internet itself. 

As we crossed the threshold of the new millennium and transitioned into the 21st century, the internet was a big deal. We concluded we were in the thick of a historical transformation, one that ushered in what became known as the knowledge economy. The traditional, industrial-age model of business was under siege, we observed. It must evolve or die.

The internet drove a commerce platform as it shifted from a B2B document exchange to a medium that streamlined transactions and data. Along the way, it dramatically disrupted a broad range of industries: from news distribution and book and map publishing, to music production and automobile retailing. Yet the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) could unleash disruptions that are even more impactful and far-reaching than those wrought by the internet.

Brace for IoT

IoT is projected to connect some 50 billion devices by 2020. That number represents close to seven devices for every man, woman, and child on the planet. Even that figure may be far too conservative. A proliferation of devices such as surveillance cameras, temperature controls, and lighting elements in the home, along with personal wearables, are increasingly networked via independent Wi-Fi connections.

The rapid expansion of interconnected devices and sensors means access to the richness of the world has changed dramatically. We’re measuring more things in greater detail by an order of magnitude, giving us far higher levels of visibility into why and how things are happening. This increase in actionable information is driving higher levels of automation, personalization, and creativity.

What is fueling the IoT revolution? It’s driven by a confluence of technology shifts that include:

  •       Cost-effective sensors
  •       Cost-effective bandwidth and ubiquitous wireless coverage
  •       An abundance of computing power, especially at the edge
  •       Wide adoption of smartphones
  •       Robust Big Data analytics
  •       IPv6, the internet’s next-generation protocol, which allows for an almost limitless number of network addresses to handle all conceivable IoT devices
  •       A focus on the user experience and the resurgence of industrial design

Tectonic Impact

While this is driving innovation and insight in many industries, it is most notable across three broad categories:

  1. Heavy equipment. By broadening measurements beyond typical categories like oil temperature and RPM to things like vibration levels, heavy equipment manufacturers can predict wear rates and breakdown events, dramatically reducing downtime. This information allows these manufacturers to develop and sell preventive maintenance and uptime services.
  2. Wearables. Essentially a collection of sensors in a single device, wearables track activity and measure things like heart rate and skin temperature, potentially driving personalized healthcare strategies.
  3. Architecture and design. Automated light sensors triggered by motion or infrared radiation can measure the flow of people in and around buildings, facilitating designs with optimized energy and space efficiencies as well as improved safety.

Just as they did with the internet in the late 1990s, savvy enterprise leaders are envisioning disruptive forces from IoT that will strike their industries with comparable, if more far-reaching impact. Yet companies must look beyond the technologies propelling these changes. They must explore how intelligent devices, things, processes, and people can converge to drive competitive transformations, and improve—even disrupt—existing business models.

Like this story? Watch Andrzej Kawalec, HPE CTO of Enterprise Security Services, discuss the IoT and its security risks.

This is the first of a series of articles and insight from Marc Wilkinson on IoT.