Just when it seems there couldn’t possibly be anything else that’s new under the sun, another technology surfaces and becomes something we can’t live without. In my recent Profit Oracle article, Trends in Enterprise IT: Convergence, I explored the latest and greatest new ideas that are bound to forever change life as we know it.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) Communications

While it may sound like a new shopping site, the Internet of Things, or IoT, describes the concept of automatic communications between devices without human intervention. It often refers to a system of remote sensors that continuously transmit data to a central system. This idea is also known as Machine to Machine (M2M) Communications.

The practice of the IoT has actually been around for a while – an early example was a pop machine at Carnegie Melon University in the early ‘80s that programmers connected to the Internet to read whether or not their preferred drink was in stock. Today event-driven architectures and sensor-based communications have the potential to push conventional computing boundaries in innovative ways–whether that’s a tractor on a farm measuring yields or a transportation network tracking goods as they pass through different temperature zones.

The Seattle-based fleet management solution provider, Zonar, found what they needed in an M2M solution. (Read more in the Zonar case study) To help manage the delivery of sensitive material to and from moving vehicles, Zonar chose an AT&T secure private network connection with global reach that delivers a continuous stream of data in real time. The service management platform allows Zonar to easily manage the data, devices and services that support its customers. And AT&T’s far-reaching international roaming arrangements help Zonar meet its global expansion plans as well as those of its customers.

Big Data

No, it’s not the name of a new television series or a pet name for your inbox. Big Data is the term for a collection of data sets so ginormous they’re beyond being managed by on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.

It will come as no surprise that the amount of data in our world is vast and growing more so daily. Analyzing large data sets—so-called big data—will become a key basis of competition in years to come. In 2013, decision makers began to absorb the potential of big data as a lever for competitive advantage. From a business perspective, organizations will have to drive the value proposition of such efforts—whether it means direct monetization of data points and streams or using big data to improve products and offers. From a technology perspective, the need to understand the technology architecture—data collection, the co-existence of SQL and No SQL databases, Hadoop, and analytics and visualization—will continue to increase.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a broad term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services generally fall into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

An example of how cloud computing helps solve business problems can be found in the cloud solution at worldwide travel and leisure organization, International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (ICE). The cloud solution was designed to help them handle their spikes in Web traffic. ICE employs AT&T Synaptic Compute as a ServiceSM with VMware vCloud® Datacenter Service, a cloud-based solution, that enables the company to efficiently increase its Web capacity during peak times.

2014 will be a big tipping point time for cloud computing characterized by strong gains in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models accompanied by advancing strength in cloud systems management, tooling, and big data. The significant investment made over the years in on-premise models will drive hybrid cloud deployments as businesses find efficient ways to inter-operate and scale their cloud and non-cloud models.

As these new technologies make their way into our lives, a key point to remember is that the typical applications that run today in the enterprise—front office, back office, e-commerce—are not being replaced, but rather complemented. Thus, integration and interoperability will drive convergence at many levels.

Is your business prepared to rock these new technologies? How do you see the IoT, big data, and cloud impacting your industry?
Learn more about Machine to Machine communication and cloud computing services.