Markets: Will The IT World Ever Really Understand The Internet Of Things?

Where will the IT infrastructure players land in the new world of Smart Systems? Where will the investment flow in M2M & Smart Systems over the next five to eight years and will it tend to benefit the IT players or others?

Investment in Smart Systems will likely be focused on a mix of traditional IT and network systems technologies coupled with new investments in core Smart Systems applications and integration technologies. What is important about this next wave of Smart Systems is the compounding effect of technology integration.    While there is standalone value in software systems, server infrastructure, network infrastructure, and client devices, it is the combination of all these innovations that will drive the last decade’s investment in IT infrastructure to inform smarter systems.

But will IT do anymore than just become “leverage” in the next chapter of Smart Systems?  These foundation technologies are important but will they increasingly become mature, declining value commodities?

For all its sophistication, today’s IT solutions are still a direct descendent of the mainframe technology {and business} model. IT still works on the same “batched computing” model—an archival model, yielding a historian’s perspective. Information about events is collected, stored, queried, analyzed, and reported upon. But all of this occurs after the fact.

This a very different thing from feeding real-time inputs of billions of tiny “state machines” into systems that continually compare machine-state(s) to sets of rules and then do something on that basis. In short, for connected devices and social networking to mean anything in business, the prevailing corporate IT model has to change.

Devices will need to host intelligent software components that communicate to other devices directly (peer-to-peer) or to logical collections of devices (peer-to-group) in any programming language, and do so autonomously. Combining the technologies that enable social networking and device networking helps bridge many gaps in today’s enterprise systems.

In its most basic and practical form, the story is “Enterprise 2.0 meets embedded device computing.” But that’s not as simple as it sounds. Capturing the real value of Internet-connected devices goes much further than providing connectivity, databasing, and some XML-based transport scheme. For example, real Web services will allow networked, embedded devices to execute remote applications as if those applications were part of the internal operating system. This type of enablement can bring extraordinary value to the growing population of network embedded devices and collaboration in and amongst devices as well as humans.

At the end of the day, the convergence of collaborative systems and machine to machine communications implies a total paradigm-shift in IT. The depth of this shift has begun to suggest itself, but it is by no means accomplished. It’s a shift from knowing “what happened” to knowing “what is happening”—all the time—and then automatically controlling systems with that knowledge. The IT community rarely talks these days about the need for ever-evolving information services that can be made available anywhere, anytime, in real-time, for any kind of information—human or device. Instead, they talk about “web services” or “cloud computing” interchangeably without giving it a thought. New collaboration platforms that are just now emerging in the marketplace show a keen understanding of how the network services “cloud” changes how we work together and how this next generation of platforms will “seep and creep” into the lives of workers.

For the IT infrastructure players to be able to really contribute anything to the Internet of Things and People, they will need to fully embrace the real-time benefits of internet collaboration – machine-to-machine; machine-to-people; and people-to-people.

It’s really ironic that the wireless carrier world should be the closest of the large IT and network equipment “arms merchants” to really understand that the future of Smart Systems lies in the real-time collaboration of people and things.  After all, they are the only really large infrastructure players that have naturally evolved from a quasi “real-time” “real-world” legacy.  But the carriers, more or less just like the traditional IT equipment players, really just don’t get it.  They think that somehow the future holds some magical “value-added pipe for communications that will magically drive high margins……………“the blind leading the vision impaired.”


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