IoT’s Rapid Evolution Marks the Next Stage in the Innovation Economy – Executive Report

10 September 2014

Like many new technology trends – such as Big Data or Cloud Computing – that have captured the imagination of consumers and business executives alike, the Internet of Things, or IoT, has become a bit like a “Rorschach Test.” People see what they want to see with the term is invoked.

To be fair, IoT lends itself to this tendency, because the concept is so incredibly big, and its implications so deep. At its root IoT is about devices talking to each other without human intervention using the internet protocol. But this alone would cleanly fall into the category of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

“When you look at what’s happening with IoT devices, explains Danny Lousberg, Director of Product Management for Qeo at Technicolor, “you will see a huge effort to create a vertical ecosystem in which a specific device is communicating with a specific back-end server that lives somewhere in the cloud to tackle a specific use case for the user. And that means these devices all are battling for a piece of mindshare and eyeballs.”

“The Internet of Things is inherently different from M2M communication because M2M is really meant to solve large-scale problems for a big group of devices that are all trying to work together in a larger environment that is not necessarily controlled by the end user.”

What makes IoT truly powerful is when M2M is linked to Mobility, Big Data, Cloud Computing and other critical elements in today’s modern technology infrastructure to empower and provide options to end-users.

“From my perspectives, it will be virtually impossible to view these technological paradigms independent of each other and from IoT,” says Kurt Jonckheer, General Manager, Virdata, and VP, Strategic Projects, Technicolor.

“The promise of IoT is that devices and appliances of all sorts will, without human interference, interact with each other to create a better experience for users by engaging in things like self-diagnosis, harnessing event-driven actions that enhance the human experience, or simply reduce costs in an intelligent and automated manner.”

This combination of technologies is already generating billions of dollars in revenue. Trillions more will be triggered as businesses come to grips with the true potential of IoT.

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Like many new technology trends – such as Big Data or Cloud Computing – that have captured the imagination of consumers and business executives alike, the Internet of Things, or IoT, has become a bit like a “Rorschach Test.” People see what they want to see with the term is invoked.

To be fair, IoT lends itself to this tendency, because the concept is so incredibly big, and its implications so deep. At its root IoT is about devices talking to each other without human intervention using the internet protocol. But this alone would cleanly fall into the category of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

“When you look at what’s happening with IoT devices, explains Danny Lousberg, Director of Product Management for Qeo at Technicolor, “you will see a huge effort to create a vertical ecosystem in which a specific device is communicating with a specific back-end server that lives somewhere in the cloud to tackle a specific use case for the user. And that means these devices all are battling for a piece of mindshare and eyeballs.”

“The Internet of Things is inherently different from M2M communication because M2M is really meant to solve large-scale problems for a big group of devices that are all trying to work together in a larger environment that is not necessarily controlled by the end user.”

What makes IoT truly powerful is when M2M is linked to Mobility, Big Data, Cloud Computing and other critical elements in today’s modern technology infrastructure to empower and provide options to end-users.

“From my perspectives, it will be virtually impossible to view these technological paradigms independent of each other and from IoT,” says Kurt Jonckheer, General Manager, Virdata, and VP, Strategic Projects, Technicolor.

“The promise of IoT is that devices and appliances of all sorts will, without human interference, interact with each other to create a better experience for users by engaging in things like self-diagnosis, harnessing event-driven actions that enhance the human experience, or simply reduce costs in an intelligent and automated manner.”

This combination of technologies is already generating billions of dollars in revenue. Trillions more will be triggered as businesses come to grips with the true potential of IoT.

IoT market projections

Indeed, the trillion dollar threshold may have already been crossed, according to some analysts. Researchers at MarketsandMarkets believe that the value of the IoT market was worth $1.03 trillion in 2013; they expect demand to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, as the market grows at an estimated CAGR of 4.08 percent from 2014 to 2020.

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Meanwhile, a research study underwritten by Cisco attributes profits generated by what they call the Internet of Everything (IoE) to be $613 billion globally for 2013. According to their “IoE Value Index” study, corporations could nearly double those profits through greater adoption of business practices, customer approaches and technologies that leverage IoT. While IoT is already driving private-sector corporate profits, it is estimated that an additional $544 billion could be realized if companies adjust their strategies to better leverage it.

Analysts at Gartner could not agree more.

“The enormous number of devices, coupled with the sheer volume, velocity and structure of IoT data, creates challenges, particularly in the areas of security, data, storage management, servers and the data center network, as real-time business processes are at stake,” says Joe Skorupa, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“Data center managers [for instance] will need to deploy more forward-looking capacity management in these areas to be able to proactively meet the business priorities associated with IoT.”

But there is a caveat associated with the complexity IoT introduces.

“In this early and emergent phase of development, entrepreneurs are experimenting across such a diverse range of sectors, applications, business models and technologies in their efforts to uncover value. This creates confusion and makes it difficult for others to easily identify the potential in their own geographies, industries and business sectors,” says Hung LeHong, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

Big data in real time… And historical context

Perhaps the simplest way to grasp the full implications of IoT, is to understand the surging amount of data that will have to be analyzed, while the time needed to understand and act on the information decreases.

“It is all about big data and developing an integrated strategy for understanding a combination of structured and non-structured data in real time — as well as undertaking analysis with historical data stores,” explains Virdata/Technicolor’s Jonckheer.

“This puts us into an entirely new world in terms of both scale and complexity. When scale and complexity collide with the need for devices, appliances and other assets to interact naturally with their environment, you change the nature of how analytics are traditionally performed,” he says.

That is why Dirk Van den Poel, Professor, Department of Marketing at Ghent University, believes that the ability to engage in rapid and sophisticated analytics is the key to driving the ultimate value of IoT for both consumers and businesses.

“It is the descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics that will give true meaning to the Internet of Things. I think we’re just scratching the surface of all of the new developments that might become possible in the future. It’s the automatic gathering of data and the ability to immediately put that data into context that will be the key to the whole story. And it is not just about stopping to gather the data, of course; but also acting on it in immediately. That is why I think IoT is much bigger than we actually realize at the moment. It’s going to be pervasive. Every single sector of the economy will be touched by this.”

The democratization of iot

One of the most significant consequences from the rise of the Internet – especially the pervasiveness of the World Wide Web – stemmed from its ability to offer all kinds of users – including large corporations and modest consumers – with access to information and communication resources. For IoT to fulfill its full potential, the same access will have to take place.

“While it is true that analytics in the context of distributed architectures have been around for many years, access has really been limited to only the largest of organizations,” explains Jonckheer.

“In today’s cloud computing environment, these capabilities become available to enterprises of every size – from startups to the largest companies and institutions. This is rapidly changing how most of us think about analytics. We will break with the concept of doing exclusively “batch” analysis. More and more of us will come to have much more dynamic expectations from analytical initiatives; understanding how people and “things” change in near real time while data is in motion will become critical.”

“At Virdata, we have developed a way of working on stored data while simultaneously working on data-in-motion. This requires an architecture that is fundamentally different from what currently exists in more traditional enterprise legacy systems. My team was very lucky. When we started working on Virdata, we did not have to deal with traditional legacy systems. We were not constrained by the limitations that drove previous analytical designs.”

This, he explains allowed the Virdata team at Technicolor to imagine new architectures that were based on harnessing the attributes of distributed systems, parallel processing engines, and in-memory processing capabilities. As the thinking has matured, the team is starting to really gain momentum, borrowing from the intellectual capital that has been leveraged to build social networks and new concepts associated with remotely monitoring assets.

Meanwhile, Technicolor’s Qeo team has been focused on ensuring that end-users are both enhanced and empowered to work with these technologies across a heterogeneous range of products and services.

“The whole goal of designing Qeo was to make sure that you can make those eye-catching applications and devices that people really want to have in their homes,” says Lousberg. “But you have to do it in a way that consumers are not forced to rely on a single individual user interface for that experience.”

For instance, if consumers have a smart television that is enmeshed in an IoT environment, would it not be easier to use smart phones to pick and choose video-on demand programming, rather than a cumbersome remote control that is dedicated to channel and program selection?

As the Internet of Things era continues to mature, interactions among once disconnected devices will become more intuitive to operate. It will also create touch points and transactions that can be captured (most likely by cloud-based applications) and analyzed to understand and respond to the needs and desires of consumers.

This process of maturation, contends Jonckheer, creates a much more flexible, nimble and efficient paradigm for processing, analyzing and sharing the results of that analysis with all appropriate end-points in a real-time – or near real-time – environment. It lays the foundation for IoT to improve our lives and our businesses by:

  • Protecting our health. When current and upcoming mobile and wearable devices, sensors, and other embedded electronic assets are integrated with cloud-based diagnostic technologies, the analysis and results can be amazingly accurate. And the information can be made available to doctors and patients in real time.
  • Optimizing our entertainment experiences. IoT makes it possible to build intuitive and automated systems for suggesting the movies or music that we are likely to enjoy most based on our mood or situation.
  • Saving money and resources. IoT can help manage consumption of natural resources based on an intelligent and automatic assessment what should be delivered on a ‘consume-as-you-go’ basis.

“IoT applications and services will therefore drive new business models, new consumption patterns. It will stimulate innovation, new economic growth. IoT and the cloud-based resources that connect devices to powerful real-time analytical engines are rapidly evolving to truly surround each of us to create an immersive environment that will augment a rapidly growing array of our experiences,” concludes Jonckheer.

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