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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
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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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Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
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3/27/2015 | 6:26:30 PM
Security
Right now, if someone hacks your account, you could be in for an unpleasant time. The resuslts can be identity theft, or outright theft of cash. Unpleasant, but not the end of the world, and certainly rectifiable. If the IOT is hacked, that popcorn machine can be programmed to start a fire, or some other kind of mayhem. I think before we go too far down this IOT road, much, much more thought must be given to security.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
3/27/2015 | 11:50:48 PM
Re: Security
Certainly rectifiable but that kind of a stain on IOT's image that soon would be a deal breaker for most people, including me. I have high hopes for IOT and Drone delivery system and only the current business models and the corresponding technical advancements that those business models allow, would be responsible for IOT's fall or rise.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/29/2015 | 5:45:22 PM
Re: Security
yalanand, are you involved with drone delivery or IoT? New business models and new security solutions will be needed since it's not possible any longer to apply old business models to new technogies involving radical changes. Otherwise, it wouldn't be real advancement. Susan
tzubair
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tzubair,
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3/28/2015 | 11:32:40 PM
Re: Security
"If the IOT is hacked, that popcorn machine can be programmed to start a fire, or some other kind of mayhem. I think before we go too far down this IOT road, much, much more thought must be given to security."

@Gary: I completely agree with you. The security risks will increase considerably as IoT becomes widespread. I think the security would also be needed to be upgraded. You'd need better anti-viruses and anti-malware systems to ensure no one is able to penetrate into your network. Network monitoring will also become essential.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
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3/29/2015 | 5:37:40 PM
Re: Security
Gary,, instead of starting a fire, what about making non-stop popcorn? :) -Susan
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
3/27/2015 | 11:53:52 PM
The Future
Suddenly the IOT fever seems to have died down, although more and more IOT devices are coming into the market, what is the cause of such a decreased interest over IOT? There is so much potential for IOT yet people (including me, I won't lie) are skeptical about its future developments.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
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3/28/2015 | 12:19:16 PM
Re: The Future
Well, there isn't that much use for your refrigerator to know what my stove has been cookling lately. Nor will it do anyone any good to know the details of which lights I have turned on at what time. But, on the other hand, it would be very helpful if the manufacturer of your car is informed of any out-of-spec readings on all of its customer's vehicle's oil pressure. So, I think it's very much like Google Glass - this new science must concentrate on solid commercial and industrial uses, and not rely on less useful private applications. And, while I'm on the subject, IOT's eventual deployment does have serious implication for everyone's privacy.
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
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2015 | 7:27:05 PM
Re: The Future
Only if my popcorn machine and television consulted with my calendar, and, as a committee, they determined that I had a guest coming who'd be peeved if the popcorn wasn't ready on arrival. Otherwise, I'd like to reserve the right to make the decision by myself, on an ad hoc basis ☺
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
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,
User Rank: Author
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
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
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4/1/2015 | 2:38:42 AM
Re: The Future
It's just that the IOT stuff that industry is doing seems so much more compelling, like getting the very last erg of energy out of every gallon of oil we burn, and making sure that the pollution is kept to a minimum. But, if my popcorn machine gets to tell its story online and it goes viral, I get the revenue from the ad clicks.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
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
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
4/2/2015 | 1:37:05 AM
Re: The Future
@Gary_EL, this days everything is on social media and everyone is a king for a second... how I see it... sad reality...
nasimson
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nasimson,
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4/3/2015 | 1:08:31 PM
Re: The Future
@Gary @Susan: The popcorn example reminds me of the dotcom bomb. Without concrete business models and products derived from diabiity instead of need and usability, are we heading towards an IoT bomb?
tzubair
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tzubair,
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3/28/2015 | 10:49:02 PM
Re: The Future
"Suddenly the IOT fever seems to have died down, although more and more IOT devices are coming into the market, what is the cause of such a decreased interest over IOT? There is so much potential for IOT yet people (including me, I won't lie) are skeptical about its future developments."

@yalanand: I don't think the fever has died down. I think we're moving in the stage where concrete applications are coming out of it and the concept is no longer in the air. A few years earlier people had all kinds of fancy notions about IoT but the technology is becoming more structured and people can see what the boundaries are.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
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,
User Rank: Author
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
zerox203
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zerox203,
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3/28/2015 | 6:55:49 PM
Re: IoT Revolution: Is The Enterprise Ready?
There's definitely a sort of confluence here for the Enterprise - on the one hand, we have Enterprise cases for IoT and devices specifically made for all kinds of industries. The article you linked of Chris' about monitoring giant mining shovels is a perfect example. On the other hand, it seems people are forgetting that all the consumer devices are an Enterprise use case. It's enterprises who are going to be building these devices, maintaining these protocols, mining all the data, handling the cloud operations, and building their next generations of products based upon that data.  When you say it will affect the relationship between users and brands, you're right - users can be enticed to buy products from the same family with the promise of smooth interoperability, but there's a limit. Companies will be expected to build interoperability across brands - which is where an org like the OIC comes in.

The smart liquor bottle actually makes a pretty strong use case. We have subclasses of consumer items that are very expensive given their frivolity - buying a nice bottle of liquor is supposed to be an experience, not just a drink, so that smart label can add some value while not bothering those who could care less about it. On the other hand, maybe I wouldn't want my deodorant to do it, so companies need to be careful about what makes sense. I think the popcorn machine is by comparison a relatively weak example - the link given points to a simple web gui with one button. While this is technically a connected popcorn machine, it's hard to say what's really running under the hood from something so simple. I think this is partly what invites consumer skepticism. On that note, I too am glad to hear these IoT execs harping on security. It's an issue that won't and shouldn't go away for IoT.

 
tzubair
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tzubair,
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3/28/2015 | 11:21:30 PM
Re: IoT Revolution: Is The Enterprise Ready?
"On the other hand, it seems people are forgetting that all the consumer devices are an Enterprise use case. It's enterprises who are going to be building these devices, maintaining these protocols, mining all the data, handling the cloud operations, and building their next generations of products based upon that data"

@zerox203: I think what people in the industry are referring to, when they seggregate between enterprise and consumer devices, is who the end-user would be. Consumer devices would primarily be used at home for different purposes while enterprise ones may be used as work tools to directly or indirectly assist in day-to-day work activities.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
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
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2015 | 1:19:18 AM
IoT is here already!
Whether enterprises like it not, IoT is here already.  I think just like cloud & smart phones it will be one of those areas where consumers adopt earlier than enterprise and then IT departments will have challenges catering to users who try to control their connected devices in home and office from the office network! Rough times ahead for enterprise IT.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
3/30/2015 | 1:18:24 PM
The "i" in IoT
I think was is getting overlooked here in this discussion is whether the "internet" part is really necessary in many applications. In manufacturing, PLC has been using sensor input to assist in operating/maintaining machines since the 70's. Cars have been sending diagnostic input from parts via sensors to it's onboard computer for a decade or more. Heck, even a speedometer on the earliest cars is a primitive form of that concept.

The question is how many processes will really be improved by making each machine piece addressable and having it dump data on an network connection to the internet itself? No question there are some who will gain enormous efficiency from this. But take example of the oil pressure someone mentioned in post. Is there really more value to be gained by putting that on internet versus talking to onboard computer and showing on your dashboard?

The old saying "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should" certainly applies to this IoT space.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 1:05:51 AM
Re: The "i" in IoT
@Terry: IMHO the people who decide to put the data on internet are themselves not the best persons to determine its best use. It will take somebody else to come up with a interesting case that would surprise us all.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/31/2015 | 5:39:57 PM
Re: The "i" in IoT
nasimson, an interessting caase about what? -Susan
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
4/2/2015 | 1:38:31 AM
Re: The "i" in IoT
@nasimson, from my point of view... I still worry about security... or who is having access to this data on internet... 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
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,
User Rank: Author
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
TerryB
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TerryB,
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4/1/2015 | 9:37:32 AM
Re: The "i" in IoT
I just question who is really pushing this, Susan, IoT is obviously good for the companies who are in the business of network enabling what used to be simple hardware. That obviously raises the cost component of that hardware. As a consumer, do I personally want to even pay $10 more for my fridge so I can download a free app on my phone to check my intenal temperature?

I get your point, some people might consider that a reason to buy that particular fridge, thus justifying the idea. I'm OK with that as long I have choice to buy a fridge without that feature and save $10 bucks. My fear is this will become something like airline baggage fees, everyone will jump on board for the revenue. You might say "Southwest Airlines" doesn't. But good luck getting a Southwest flight to Green Bay where I live. The truth here is, you fly from here, you pay baggage fees.

Cloud is a similar example. Ask any anybody in the business of providing cloud service and it's the greatest thing since white bread. Even though, at it's core, it's really no different than what they called Timesharing back in the mainframe days. Paying rent instead buying. As I've said before in a comment, if that was such a great idea for EVERYONE, why does anyone own a home?
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
4/2/2015 | 1:34:27 AM
Re: The "i" in IoT
@TerryB, interesting point... I would have to agree as this days everyone trying to save.... in my days we use to say if you are smart - why you are not rich...
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