The True Internet Of Things

A 2015 article in the Deloitte Review by Tom Davenport and John Lucker provided some much needed context around the quickly expanding conversations on the Internet of Things (IoT).  Having written about the IoT often over the past 15 years, I have witnessed the term be applied too often to the mechanics of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications with less thought given to the broader impact of all those devices connecting and sharing information and data.

While we are still trying to get our hands around Big Data and ensure that we realize all the value we can derive from that aggregation and analysis, IoT will almost certainly create more data, often in much greater detail, than what many have imagined big data will comprise.  For Davenport and Lucker, the real imperative in IoT is to focus on the integration, analysis, value-add, and action processes around IoT data.  To that end, they define IoT as much more than M2M .

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is often described as a collection of connected sensors, but it is actually a much more complex concept. It involves not only the connection and integration of devices that monitor the physical world—temperature, pressure, altitude, motion, proximity to something else, biometrics, sound, images, and so forth—but also the aggregation, relationship, and analysis of the information those devices create in order to take action on the situation, and the business and technology changes required to use the data and analyses.

Davenport and Lucker propose a hierarchy of sophistication when leveraging all the data and information created by an IoT ecosystem.

Local Sensing

At this local level of the IoT, the activity tracker is typically connected to one or a few other devices for simple actions and data gathering.

Data Integration

Integration of the data is necessary for analytics and control to take place.  At the moment, this is the most challenging area of the IoT.

The Analytics of Things

Much of the benefit of the Internet of Things lies in our ability to leverage the (useful) data we collect with it.

Cognitive Action

This is the business problem that the IoT is solving for your company or its customers.


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