The Difficulty of Defining Internet of Things (IoT)
A lot has been written and said recently about two interconnected hypes: Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial internet. Based on writings online one can come to a conclusion, that almost any mobile app or machine data collection service can be seen as IoT. Service models dating back to 1990s, such as fleet management powered maintenance, are suddenly presented as IoT. Any remote surveillance solution with a mobile access is given the industrial internet name. Better yet, papers have reported about companies investing in "industrial internet premises". What seems to be in common in all of the IoT definitions is the machine to machine solution-oriented mindset - and surprisingly scarcely anything towards providing new services to human beings.
Is IoT only a hype?
It is difficult to define IoT or industrial internet. I'm suspecting that there are very few people who are really mastering in this field. However, intuitively it seems obvious that IoT or other major digitalization trends are far from empty hypes. Things really are changing and we have already witnessed both positive and negative possibilities of gathering and using a quantity of data. The point is, that it is more difficult to use the data in a positive way than it is to gather it.
Below are two articles with, in my opinion, reasonable visions on the practical implications of IoT:
1. Anu Kankainen has presented well-grounded arguments for people being a part of the Industrial Internet. She has made a valuable point of IoT not being a machine-to-machine solution only.
2. Timo Seppälä, Jari Collin and Olli Martikainen describe convincingly the companies' transition towards the open IT architectures, as well as their change of focus from internal to collaborative processes (in Finnish).
Simple Dos and Don'ts of IoT
Digitalization can help us to gather masses of data. By studying, processing and exchanging the data, it is possible to find and create valuable information. It is unlikely that the value of the information could be predefined. On the contrary, it must require repeated analyses and re-analyses, service prototyping, trials and errors and so on. After a couple of retrials, you might gain knowledge or even create new business. However, no-one will bring it to you ready, as an out-of-the-box solution.
I would like to end this post by providing my simple "IoT Dos and Dont's" list.
- Remember that it is relatively easy to gather data, but more difficult to use it. Thus, invest more in the using part rather than to the gathering part.
- Always remember to retain the human perspective and design services to individual human beings.
- From a technology point of view, develop open architectures and use standard technologies when possible.
- Try not to rule out any options by restricting technologies or policies.
- Do not put all the emphasis on gathering data.
- Don't think IoT is just machine-to-machine communication.
Also, if you are offered consulting services in order to refine your IoT business strategy, don't buy before you ask the consultant to tell you what IoT (or industrial internet or big data for that matter) is. If you get a pre-memorized answer, think twice.