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If we build it they will come – Cloud and the Internet of Things

Remember when “the cloud” had little significance for, or interest from Joe public. We all had a “what’s it got to do with me” attitude to this “virtual” technology.

But in time (it was 2010 when Steve Ballmer introduced the year of the cloud at the Microsoft World Conference) we have all starting to benefit from cloud computing’s ability to capture and store masses of data – I for one have all my music, photographs and data backed up somewhere in the “sky”.

The drive towards “cloud” was created by the large IT vendors with superb technology but in its early years, little practical use for it.

The cloud was a concept - based on the “if we build it they will come” premise (checkout the HP’s video, "That Cloud Thing Everyone Is Talking About" for a tongue in cheek view of cloud) – that has now gathered momentum such that the space has been filled with thousands of innovative solutions – CRM, SAAS ERP solutions to name but two, previously only the territory of the largest organisations, are now available and priced at the SME. Indeed no self-respecting software start up would dream of developing a solution without cloud as its technical foundation.

Now for the next big “thing” - the Internet of Things (IoT) – and we can draw similar comparisons to cloud.

There is a coming together of technology advances and capabilities provided by big IT vendors including Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and HP alongside the proliferation of sensors connected to the internet.


Image Source: iScoop, An Explosion of Connected Possibility. Click for the full image

Cisco state there will be 50 billion sensors connected to the internet in the next 5 years. Sensors have become very cheap and very small (Broadcom’s MEM device is one thousandth of an inch in size). They can be woven in to material, attached to packaging, built in to any manufacturing process even injected in to live stock and ingested by humans. All to collect data.

Of course the best sensor of all is the now ubiquitous mobile – with the capability of collecting and transmitting an incredible amount of detailed information.

Beacon’s (geo-location tracking) seem to have won the day (versus LED) as the standard method to allow businesses to interact with the mobile, when and how they wish to.

And of course let’s not forget the cloud and its ability to hold an unimaginable volume of data and with that comes business intelligence, data warehousing and data mining technologies, eventually coming of age under the banner of “big data”.

All this is made possible by the world’s internet infrastructure transmitting data with millisecond latency.

Edzard Overbeek – Senior Vice President, Cisco Services states “the Internet of Things will revolutionise decision making – we know that. By connecting the previously un-connected, we create incredible potential for businesses to improve the speed and accuracy of decision making through the analysis and application of digital information. It enables dramatically faster cycle times, highly dynamic processes, adaptive customer experiences and, through the ecosystem of people and technology, the potential for breakthrough performance gains”.

Overbeek describes, I think rather eloquently, that we are at a point in time - the same as cloud in 2010 - that the building blocks are in place in readiness for the innovators and entrepreneurs to take over, to turn potential in to practical applications (Broadcom and Intel even provide low cost IoT Starter kits to ignite the industry – 10,000 have been sold by Broadcom alone). I for one, will be instructing my R&D department to ensure we have the IoT at the forefront of our product development roadmap.


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The Practical Applications of the Internet of Things (IoT)