If you haven’t already heard the phrase “Internet of Things” bandied about online or offline, brace yourself. Defined by Gartner as “the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment,” the Internet of Things or the “IoT” brings uniquely identifiable objects into context online.
Initially popularized by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Auto-ID Center, the IoT goes beyond the basic computing devices (computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.) to include everyday devices like refrigerators, thermostats, and parking meters. Those devices’ numbers will reach staggering heights over the next few years. According to Gartner there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the IoT by 2020 and ABI Research says that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the IoT by 2020.
In its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014, Gartner highlighted the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2014. Number three on this list was “The Internet of Everything.” According to the report, the Internet is expanding beyond PCs and mobile devices into enterprise assets such as field equipment, and consumer items such as cars and televisions.
“The problem is that most enterprises and technology vendors have yet to explore the possibilities of an expanded Internet and are not operationally or organizationally ready,” according to Gartner.
But Gartner’s 30 billion devices by 2020 prediction isn’t the highest out there. Other voices in the IoT discussion put the number at 40 billion or higher. Here’s an infographic from IoT public cloud provider Xively that compiles some figures and predicts – perhaps no surprise – business transformation as a result.
Microsoft is now embracing the vision of a “data culture for everyone” that will be supported through new products like Azure Intelligent Systems Service and SQL Server 2014. Dynamics ERP product teams will likely begin embracing these concepts more directly as their products gain compatibility, so for existing customers, measuring the impact of IoT is largely a wait and see situation for now.
Microsoft also made moves recently to broaden its “Internet of Things” team’s scope, but not necessarily in the direction that Dynamics customers might have hoped. ZDNet reported back in February that what was originally known as the “Microsoft Embedded” team is now being called the IoT Team and is now operating under the unified Windows organization. And where the team had previously focused on enterprise/industrial customers – not consumers.
“Up until now, Microsoft’s Windows Embedded team has focused primarily on enterprise/industrial customers, not consumers,” Mary Jo Foley wrote at the time. “Its charter has been to convince retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive shops to embed various flavors of Windows in their devices.”
For the typical ERP users, the day when millions of devices connect into their hub systems wirelessly and seamlessly could be some time off, but one thing stands true: with up to 30 billion devices (or 40 billion?) set to come online by 2020, the idea of using the Internet to tie these disparate objects together into a single, cohesive system is both attractive and compelling.
“Imagine digitizing the most important products, services, and assets,” writes Gartner, noting that the combination of data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models – Manage; Monetize; Operate; Extend. These four basic models can be applied to any of the four “Internets” (people, things, information, and places).
“Enterprises should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (i.e., assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models,” Gartner points out in its report. “Enterprises from all industries (heavy, mixed, and weightless) can leverage these four models.”
By Bridget McCrea, Contributing Writer, published April 16, 2014
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