If CES 2015 taught us anything this time around, it taught us that the Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay and here to grow.

By promising to deliver an open platform standard of local hardware devices, telecommunication and cloud services, IoT is poised to significantly accelerate growth of established verticals while fueling the creation of brand new technology markets. More than just another catch-phrase, IoT represents a ubiquitous open system of globally interconnected sensors, controllers and communication channels connecting consumers and devices together in traditionally low tech-density places including wearable bio-tech, smart-home appliances and the outdoors. Commercially, Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) will spearhead advances in smart agriculture, smart cities, smart factories and the smart grid in a coordinated interconnected global system of autonomous data analytics and actions.

It is estimated that the potential market growth in IoT technologies and solutions is staggering with some projections topping 50+ billion devices registered on the internet by 2020 and an Internet of Everything (IoE) Value at Stake of $14.4 trillion over the next decade. Well established M2M vertical markets including vehicle finance (FinCo) and asset tracking, municipal utilities management, transportation & logistics and remote environmental conditions monitoring, are poised to greatly benefit through increased efficiencies from market merger & acquisition consolidation spurred from adoption of the new IIoT model and the burgeoning technologies and cottage industries surrounding this model.

Although impressive, the promise and implications of IoT extend far beyond simple market share growth. By changing the way we think about how products and services are conceptualized, created and marketed [from the traditional Education > Business > Invention > Consumers model to a Consumer (Makers) > Invention > Business > Education model], any successful adoption of the IoT model requires a brand new way of thinking about our current approach to education, product design, manufacturing and more. IoT has the potential to shake the foundations of these traditional models and by doing so spearhead not just growth in our markets but creation of new markets.

As an example, providers empowered with a higher density and availability of real-time granular data, can offer their subscribers a range of precise usage based services allowing consumers to pay only for what they actually use. In the case of Usage Based (auto) Insurance (UBI), providers price their coverage based on their customers’ to-the-minute Pay How You Drive (PHYD) profile, instead of charging a fixed yearly rate. The health and medical sector also stands to benefit tremendously. Patient data streaming in from a plethora of new wearable body monitoring gadgets may be consolidated for more accurate diagnoses, improving survival rates while reducing overall health related costs. The challenge of putting these system in place are daunting, the trend is moving towards a unified and interconnected IoT systems and it will be interesting to see what repository organization is ultimately tasked with hosting, consolidating and distributing patient medical information between health providers. Education once transformed from a lecture/rote memorization based model to an interactive learn-by-doing model, also stands to benefit from a new IoT model which more closely mirrors how humans learn, retain and apply knowledge.

IoT and IoE are proving to be powerful catalysts, ushering in a modern day industrial revolution of ideas and knowhow, driving entrepreneurs and inventors at every level to create new and exciting products and services without the impediments of current manufacturing, economic and business models. An age of small scale makers, thriving within a supportive, open, peer-sharing environment of like minded individuals is starting to emerge. Professional “makerspaces” environments such as FabLab andTechShop have already cropped up to help individual makers bridge their digital world of ideas with the physical world of reality. By providing a collaborative environment of support, tools and education, a democratization of entrepreneurship has come about to engineers and designers to move their ideas from concept to finished product. On the financial end, crowd-source funding organizations have sprouted up to mirror the open-development maker process by exposing candidate design concepts and prototypes to massive-online user review and participation; a far cry from the day when any ideas chance for success were limited to the views of a handful of venture capitalists.

So where does M2M fit under the larger IoT umbrella? M2M, an integral component of IoT, works silently and autonomously behind the scenes to provide a system of inter-connected devices for the purpose of information exchange. Traditionally built for commercial and government applications such as asset management and tracking or remote supervisory control and data collection (SCADA), M2M technologies are evolving to accommodate the needs of a wider range of People-2-Machine solutions inherent to functional and principles of IoT .

Given the level of excitement in what IoT and its family of related technologies have already brought to the market, the key take-away is that for any group of systems to be effective, the extent to which they are able to easily and efficiently interoperate is of key importance. Interoperability, a term coined from the days of IT, depends on the acceptance and use of a clearly defined set of global technology and operational standards. Standardizing IoT may well be the most politically, legally, economically and technically challenging hurdle facing the wide spread adoption of IoT and organizations of all kinds have already started to position their interests for a seat at the IoT table. How IoT systems are ultimately standardized remains to be seen and although any effort to standardize may be at odds with the fundamentally open and collaborative nature of IoT to begin with, standardization is an unavoidable consequence for the proper unification and global proliferation of IoT and its promise.

References:
– Kore Wireless: “Looking into the Future – M2M and IoT in 2015” http://www.korewireless.com.au/blog/looking-into-the-future-m2m-and-iot-in-2015?utm_content=11003566&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin
– ZDNet: “CES 2015: The 4 trends to watch for business: http://www.zdnet.com/article/ces-2015-the-4-trends-to-watch-for-business-professionals
– Chicago Tribune: “CES 2015: New ‘Internet of Things’” http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-videos-ces-2015-innovates-inspires-20150109-premiumvideoplaylist.html
– National Instruments: “The Industrial Internet of Things” http://www.ni.com/pdf/company/en/Trend_Watch_IIOT.pdf
– National Instruments: “The World Is Ours to Make: The Impact of the Maker Movement”http://www.ni.com/pdf/company/en/Trend_Watch_Maker.pdf
– Postscapes: “Tracking the Internet of Things” http://postscapes.com/internet-of-things-market-size

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