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IT Leadership // IT Strategy
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3/27/2015
08:05 AM
Susan Fourtané
Susan Fourtané
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IoT Revolution: Is The Enterprise Ready?

In the connected future, the Internet of Things is expected to play a huge role in everyday life. Are enterprises ready to handle IoT, and what does it mean for security?

11 IoT Programming Languages Worth Knowing
11 IoT Programming Languages Worth Knowing
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

There is little doubt the Internet of Things revolution is coming, and it will fundamentally change the way people interact with different devices. Still, for the last several years, most of the focus has been on the consumer market, with questions raised about the feasibility of low-level IoT devices such as Google's Nest smart thermostat and other basic housewares.

Where does this leave enterprises, especially when it comes to issues such as security, and what to do with all the data that IoT sensors can collect? After all, if there are privacy and security concerns about what a smart TV or thermostat can collect in a suburban home, what happens when IoT goes industrial, and critical systems are connected to the Internet and uploading terabytes of data into the cloud?

These issues regarding how business will respond to IoT were center stage at this month's Mobile World Congress. Although mainly a consumer show focused on mobile, MWC 2015 provided some critical insights into how enterprises should approach IoT, and what it means for IT departments and the CIOs tasked with overseeing this technology.

However, let's first start with popcorn.

At the MWC show, Niall Murphy, founder and CEO of Evrythng, an IoT cloud platform that connects consumer products to the Web and manages real-time data to drive applications, talked about how the 3.5 trillion products that are manufactured every year are becoming more and more digital. When it comes to IoT specifically, he estimates that there will be about one trillion of these connected products by 2020.

In his view, Murphy believes that businesses should not only focus on how things get connected, but also on how things become connectable.

"Smart does not mean that something is connected -- or if something is connected, it doesn't mean it is smart. Something becomes smart when it is connectable," he explained.

Niall Murphy demonstrates how a connected popcorn machine works during his presentation at MWC in Barcelona.

(Image: Susan Fourtane)

Niall Murphy demonstrates how a connected popcorn machine works during his presentation at MWC in Barcelona.

(Image: Susan Fourtané)

As a way of illustrating this point, he used a popcorn demonstration. With help from the audience, he showed how a Web-based system can pop popcorn -- thus during an old-fashioned, unconnected activity into a new, IoT-based function.

Cloud And Security Matter

Within the sphere of IoT, Murphy emphasized the importance of the cloud with this new ecosystem, and how the technology is needed to operate and manage these trillion or so connected products. In addition, the product themselves become data-collection nodes, and these products are now nodes in a giant, global network.

There is a consumer approach with business implications, as well as a fundamental business transformation.

After his presentation, he took part in panel discussion on how different objects and different languages connected through the IoT are going to change businesses over the course of the next five years, as a vast array of products become connected by different methods.

Murphy was joined by several executives working with IoT, including David Friedman, CEO of Ayla Networks; David del Val Latorre, who oversees research and development at Telefonica; and Thomas Svensson, a senior vice president at ThingWorx.

What are these executives thinking about when it comes to IoT? One word: Security.

Murphy addressed the concern by saying that the enterprises are now in the role of almost representing the types of services IoT provides. In turn, they are responsible for protecting the security of the consumer.

[Read about the IoT driving the future of cars.]

"Product manufacturing brands have the pressure to assess the security of the product," Murphy said. However, a lot of this depends on what data these devices capture and the relationship with the consumer. The paradox appears when trying to deliver a customized experience.

IoT's Message In A Bottle

In addition, IoT-connectable products radically change the relationship between consumers, products, and brands. Take alcoholic beverages for example.

Murphy presented an NFC-enabled, smart tag for whiskey bottles that grew out of a partnership between Evrythng and Thinfilm.

The NFC tag makes it possible to track the bottles. With the help of a smartphone, the manufacturer can see whether the bottle's seal has been broken. This helps keep tabs on the stock control -- a futuristic type of anti-counterfeiting measure. According to Thinfilm, its smart labels are impossible to copy or modify. These smart labels use OpenSense, a new wireless technology for enhanced IoT product security.

Think about that the next time you walk down the aisle of your favorite liquor store or step up to the bar after a long day at the office. The question then becomes one of whether the same technology be used to measure whether people are actually drinking the whisky? Is it times to change the way the drinks are distilled? If a person likes this particular brand, would they also enjoy a different type of alcohol made by the same company?

As products become connectable, the enterprise needs to be ready for the connected revolution. There's a lot of promise here, as well as some warning signs.

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Susan Fourtané is a Science & Technology journalist, writer, and philosopher with a life-long interest in science and technology -- and all things interesting. She has been a technology journalist for nearly 10 years writing and reporting for global print and online ... View Full Bio
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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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4/1/2015 | 4:41:04 AM
Re: The Future
Gary, if you have a look at Thomas C's latest article published yesterday about Amazon's new buy button you will see how IoT is fast penetrating the consumers' sphere and how Amazon's Dash Button could help you ordering more popcorn by just pressing a button, getting it delivered by an Amazon's drone and then your popcorn machine can do its job getting the popcorn ready after you have ordered it through your smartphone on your way home on Friday evening. Everything ready and set for your movie evening. :D What about that? I love it already. :) -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/31/2015 | 11:18:16 PM
Re: The "i" in IoT
Terry, I was thinking about hwt ayou said. You not always have to do something just because you can do it. But if you don't try and do it you will never know what results you could have. Usually the ones who succeed are the ones who dare to take risks because they know there is 50% chances taking the risk will lead them to succees, and that's enough for trying to do something new. -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/31/2015 | 11:11:04 PM
Re: The Future
Gary, commercial, industrial, automotive, agricultural applications for IoT are already out there. Early adopters are giving good feedback so far, as far as I know. But it's not industries and business, it's consumers also who will see the IoT revolution. One day you may tell me here that your popcorn machine is great. :) -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/31/2015 | 11:03:02 PM
Re: The Future
tzubair, I agree with y ou. I also thimnk the fact that IBM has vreated a specialized IoT business unit will contribute to make others see that there is a future here and doing it well it can work well. Some people are afarid of new technologies at the beginning. -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/31/2015 | 5:44:18 PM
Re: The "i" in IoT
Terry, But you need them to be on the network in order to be able to be connected. In what applications you think it's not necessary for the things to be connected? And then they wouldn't be part of the IoT classification. Sensors is a different story. -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/31/2015 | 5:39:57 PM
Re: The "i" in IoT
nasimson, an interessting caase about what? -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/30/2015 | 7:32:08 AM
Re: IoT Revolution: Is The Enterprise Ready?
zerox, the link makes more sense when you can see and participate in the demo, as it happened during Murphy's presentation. The memebers of the audience had to open the Webpage and click on the button. When an x number were reached the popcorn machine would be activated and we could see how it worked. You could smell the popcorn all over the room. :) -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/30/2015 | 7:05:58 AM
Re: The Future
Gary, Of course they will consult iwith your smartphone. But, for any of your devices to make decisions and function they first need your approval, just as you set everything in your smartphone, customizing it to do want you want it to do. Without clear settings your phone doesn't do anything. So this is the same. :) -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/29/2015 | 6:00:46 PM
Re: The Future
Gary, yes, the data collected and information sent to manufacturers and enterprises is much more useful for them to improve their products and offer new and better services plus customization than how useful the same information can be for anyone else. About privacy, wouldn't you trade letting your popcorn machine and television manufacturers know when your phone is scheduling an evening movie in exchange of convenience like having your popcorn ready by the time the movie starts without you having to worry about that? -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/29/2015 | 5:50:25 PM
Re: The Future
yalanand, you say you see potential iin the IoT space, but at the smae time you are skeptical. What exactly makes you be skeptical? And why the contradiction? Judging for what I have seen at MWC and spoken with executives from companies working on IoT I wouldn't say the interest in the IoT has decresed. On the contrary. It's advancing pretty fast. -Susan
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