The Internet of Things is not really about things

  • We are likely further along the IoT adoption curve than analysts have yet reported.

  • Copious volumes of data aren't worth much until insights are derived from the data and potential automation is identified.

  • IoT initiatives must have security baked in, not just tacked on.

Industry pundits like to throw around unimaginable statistics for the number of devices that will make up the Internet of Things (IoT) and the amount of data these devices will generate. This exponential technology adoption curve is being fueled by the low cost of transistors and the reduced power required to install sensors almost anywhere.

Analysts will tell you we’re at the start of this IoT wave, although I actually believe we’re much further along the adoption curve than that — even if standards are lagging a bit.

For most of us, IoT has started to encroach upon our personal lives more rapidly than our business lives, showing up in thermostats, utilities, cars, and even door bells. These devices gather and share information in ways that augment our lives and add value. And connected devices are beginning to do the same in the business environment.

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The true value of IoT is in the data

Based on the economics of supply and demand, when data reaches the copious volumes we’re seeing today, it is really not worth very much. What generates value is the insight we derive from that information flow and, ideally, the level of action we can automate. If we can apply the abundance of computing capabilities to not just generate more data but also to identify the context of the data — and then act upon it — there is real value to be had.

Developing a contextual understanding about what is happening in the business ecosystem will generate significant competitive benefits. In cases where the response is well understood, the reaction can be automated, reducing latency and freeing up personnel to focus on areas that require their creativity.

When planning any IoT initiative, one key point to keep in mind is that security needs to be baked into the IoT approach, not just tacked onto the side. Organizations expanding IoT adoptions must not overlook security, but that is a complex issue that deserves more attention in a future post.

As for IoT today, “start small but think big” is probably the rule. Rarely is it wise to change everything at once when making a strategic change; you need to develop experience and validate your goals.

Rules for ramping up the Internet of Things

Realistically, IoT has been ramping up for decades, and most organizations have efforts now under way. For those companies starting new projects or shifting their strategies, the same rules as those followed for most strategic technology efforts apply:

  • Assess your current situation, then define your goals and vision. What’s currently in place, and what do you want to accomplish?
  • Identify gaps, risks and measures. Make sure security is part of your strategy.
  • Prioritize and plan, then execute and measure performance.

Learn how AT&T IoT solutions can help you develop new business models, improve efficiencies, automate processes and more.


Charlie Bess is an independent IT Consultant. He is the author of this blog and all opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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