Connecting things to the internet is not new, but it’s the scale of this opportunity and almost limitless business opportunities enabled by the scale and technology that makes this exciting.
Ten years ago there were around 500 million devices connected to the internet, today there are around 15 billion (not surprising when evidently already there are more cell phones in the world than toothbrushes) and in five years’ time they are forecasting more than 50 Billion devices connected to the internet.
What’s more, research companies like Gartner, McKinsey and IDC all seem to agree on the numbers.
So back to my earlier point. If this is going to be so big, why don’t my friends and neighbours know about this?
One reason is it’s been coming for years. It’s a technological progression not a revolution.
It’s more about the confluence of network technology; devices that are now small and cheap enough, as well as the maturing business model on how this all might be pulled together that mean this dream will soon become reality.
The latter point - the business model - is the salient point for me. Having a device or ‘thing’ connected to internet might be interesting, but would I buy one?
It probably doesn’t matter, the potential business benefits are so large that this will happen in so many areas without the consumer making a conscious decision to buy one.
Remotely read electricity meters and parking space indicators in parking buildings are common examples. This is also why the average person on the street is unaware or even concerned about this impending sea-change.
The secret sauce is turning that thing (product) into a service. Show me that I can get more value, save time or money, or make my life easier by connecting ‘things’ to the internet then I’m all-in and my friends and neighbours will be too.
This value proposition holds true for consumers, businesses and service providers alike.
Until then, the potential of the Internet of Things will be unrealised and we will be talking about the Internet of What could have been. I have a feeling it’s just a (short) matter of time though.