The catchphrase, Are you IoT ready? (Which I sometimes shorten to RUIoT-Ready) has raised some interesting questions such as, What is IoT? Why should I care? and What does "Ready" really mean?
What is IoT? I will use this simple definition from Wikipedia:
The Internet of Things refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for Internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.
(More definitions here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_things)
Why should I care? In this last month's article from AutomatedBuildings.com, Change Agents Impacting Building & Facility Management, writer Marc Petock, provides this wisdom:
IoT continues as a game changer; it is changing what we are delivering---how, when and where. However, realizing its potential starts with understanding the value and contribution it brings. IoT is as much about behavioral changes and business opportunity, not just technology. We need to operate and manage buildings based on outcomes, not output. IoT is not the objective of this transformation but the platform upon which to connect, collect and analyze data so we can measure and validate these outcomes. Building owners and operators should not “buy” IoT; they should purchase solutions to specific problems where IoT components are part of a solution.
What does "Ready" mean? Being ready is being able to discuss the merits of IoT and apply them to our applications for human-centric solutions.
When I originally created the catchphrase I was thinking the question was focused on our traditional smart automated building industry but now have come to understand it is not just our industry that needs to be IoT ready. Those who are the reason for our human-centric solutions needed to be part of the discussion. This process of developing inclusive solutions requires us all to think more like app developers creating our human-centric solutions as discussed in this column.
Those who identify themselves as members of the IoT industry need to get ready by better understanding the dynamics and change agents of our smart automated buildings industry. I prepared this timeline of industry evolution last month including Marc comments to help improve understanding of our industry's history and its (sometimes) painfully slow evolution.
IoT folks need to review the last 20 year-plus timeline to understand better that this is not a race for IoT to win but more of a fun run where traditional controls and new IoT folks will gather to discover each other's strengths and build on them for the greater good. As an industry we need to recognize we are all in this together; it is not a war, it is a love-in "for Human-Centric Solutions."
This article, Finding Generation IoT, highlights one excellent reason why you need to be IoT ready: We are experiencing a worldwide scramble for IoT-capable staff.
Go back to the basics. Start by cultivating your own people. That means training them in IoT-related skills—not just the technology and processes but also soft skills such as virtual teaming and collaboration. This is job one for every company starting on the IoT journey. Creating an IoT-ready workforce is not a one-time training event. It is a mindset change. It’s a new way to run your organization. A new contract between your company and your employees.
But that’s only the human side of the equation. On the machine end is an even more urgent and inescapable reason: True machine intelligence is on the way. Its harbingers are already at work as outlined in this article from Harbor Research - Machine Intelligence Through Data Transformation:
Aggregation, transformation, and management of data from sensors, machines, and equipment is the holy grail of machine learning and the IoT; a fundamental core enabler... The fact that a wide range of sensors, machines, and equipment can transmit information about status, performance, and usage, and can interact with people and other devices anywhere in real time points to the increasingly complex role of data in IoT systems. This only compounds when we consider the many billions or more of networked devices that many observers are forecasting will be deployed and the scale of data they will produce. Gathering and analyzing machine data is not a role for human beings. The only way to achieve it is to have the product’s own “machine intelligence” continually delivered back to its creator.
More and more my thoughts are being formed my observations (reflected and shared in my daily posting on Twitter) of what IoT Ready might include, and some of those thoughts are frankly disturbing. For example, that the person in line to take your job might not be a person at all:
Big Data and analytics is something we have been talking about for a while, and we are either using it, providing it, or selling it. At this stage of the game, it has created a business opportunity that many have embraced. Someone has to connect the data to some form of filtering or to an analytics platform to make the data useful. But what happens when data no longer needs a human interaction?
Check out this video, courteous of the Wall Street Journal. In it, Executives from Baidu, Intel, Samsung and Walmart talk about how artificial intelligence will soon redefine our technological lives. They speak at the WSJ D.Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. If you are like me, it will shock you, scare you, and intrigue you. Whatever you think about the video, you cannot ignore what these business leaders are telling you is happening.
If you’d like a little peek in the crystal ball, check out this this article - 17 Experts Tell the Most Exciting IoT Trends to Watch for in 2018.
Needless to say, IoT is one of the most talked about technologies in 2017. Unlike most other technologies, IoT has a visible impact on various industries and business functionings in just a matter of few years… According to Statista, the global IoT market is forecast to be valued at more than 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars.
I hope the catchphrase RUIoT Ready sends a wake-up call to you and your people that propels you on your journey into our rapidly evolving IoT future. You can better define what the words IoT mean to you but, to make the most out of the coming changes, you cannot ignore your readiness.