If you’ve been paying close attention lately you’ll know that the “Internet of Things” has become one of the technology industry’s biggest buzz phrases. It’s not hard to figure why. The internet has been around for the last twenty years and it has truly revolutionized our lives, the way we work, and how we interact. Consider the transformations in business, commerce, culture, education, politics, and more.
But experts are saying we haven’t seen anything yet. If you haven’t read the recent Digital Life in 2025 report it’s well worth your time. One of the major outcomes of this research predicts that within 10 years the internet will become “an ambient information environment where accessing the Internet will be effortless and most people will tap into it so easily it will flow through their lives ‘like electricity.’
The essence of Internet of Things is the linking of physical objects with unique identifiers to the internet so they can be traced and tracked in order to provide real-time feedback to the end-user. The standard Internet Protocol has been IPv4, based on a 32 bit system, which provides about 4.3 billion addresses. The recent development of a new Internet Protocol, IPv6, based on a 128 bit system, means that an almost unlimited number of IP addresses will be available. What this boils down to is that IPv6 is large enough for every grain of sand on earth to be IP addressable! There will be no end to the number of objects that can become IP enabled.
The ability to receive real-time awareness of our physical world and interact with that data through touch-based, wearable, and augmented reality are just some of the many ways that the Internet of Things will exert wide-ranging and disruptive impacts on all levels of business and society. In fact, current trends indicate that the Internet will not just pertain to random “things” but will literally be ubiquitous, or what some are calling the “Internet of Everything.” John Chambers, Cisco CEO, claims this space will have five to 10 times the impact on society as the Internet itself, and is projecting a $19 trillion dollar market for this industry over the next decade.
The development of a connected web of people to everyday physical objects, along with machine to machine communications and ubiquitous computing, represents a scenario considered science fiction just a few years ago. Researchers predict that by 2020 over 30 billion objects will wirelessly be connected to the internet. As the world becomes increasingly connected and as the internet indeed becomes more ‘like electricity’, it’s incumbent that small business owners start to get on-board with the latest transformations coming down the pipeline.
Actionable steps could consist of installing a Nest thermostat to remotely monitor the temperature and comfort level of one’s business, or adopting the Fitbit to measure health and fitness metrics. Wearable technology will also become one of the biggest channels for the Internet of Things and in the next decade wearables will become our new PCs of choice, replacing even the smartphone.
Google Glass is just the beginning of a whole new realm of real time awareness and connectivity that will be mediated through our eyes, ears, and limbs. It’s not too early for organizations to obtain Google Glass and use the SDK to explore the future of apps through the lens of augmented reality. Smartwatches are also going to be the wave of the future; it’s worth paying attention to what the creators of Pebble are doing in this space.
We’re at an epic and historical juncture in the history of the internet. In the past 15 years we’ve moved from Web 1.0 (the “Internet of information”) to Web 2.0 (the “Internet of people”). The Internet of Things is the “third wave” of development as physical object come online. However, it will be much bigger than anything that has preceded and businesses must get prepared.
The kinds of real-time communications and tracking that will become available through Internet of Things will heavily redefine customer experience and expectations. People today, for instance, want to track the delivery of their packages or interact with QR codes to sign up for new services. But this is all just scratching the service of what real time sensor and object tracking capabilities will be available in the next ten years.
While the Internet of Things is still in its infancy, don’t let that fool you into complacency. Internet of Things will become a key market differentiator in the business world – faster than even mobile. If you haven’t done so yet now would be a great time to fit Internet of Things into your 2020 strategy and start implementing clear and deliberate guidelines to leverage the latest trends in this fast-moving and exciting market. Internet of Things will set digital businesses today apart from the pack and make them thrive while others are merely trying to survive.