5 questions to ask about the Internet of Things

2014-30-10, by Diana

What is the Internet of ThingsThe Internet of things (IoT) has become a new phenomenon that promises to bring about the new technological revolution. It is going to change how people interact with the world around them by using new connected devices able to collect and analyze data and alter behavior accordingly. It’s going to be a new world of connected objects that need less human direction and better, more precise computer software. These devices will in turn be able to analyze and optimize human actions – from using software and hardware to monitor health to prediciting consumer behavior to reducing technology repair time.

More information about what is the Internet of things can be found here, but for now, let’s ask some questions that will help us make this new world a functional and attractive future.

1. What is the “killer app” for Internet of Things?

Killer applications are computer software programs that have become an indispensable part of some technology. It’s the one required app that makes some other technology work and that drives the sale of those technologies. Some examples in the past have included Apple’s VisiCalc spreadsheet software, or e-mail (arguably needing to use e-mail drove purchases of computers).

What is the killer app for Internet of Things? For the large part, it is too soon to tell – will it be the medical applications connected to sick loved ones to make sure they are okay, or will it be the ability to analyze each product and predict what parts are most likely to break and cause electricity shortages? The Internet of Things is still in its infancy and the possibilities are boundless. The major trend of any “killer app” is likely to be something that gives us access to more knowledge – whether it is knowledge of medical conditions or predicting product longevity.

2. How secure is the data collected? Who owns it?

The real benefit of the Internet of Things will be realized by collection and analysis of data. A light bulb will be able to report its condition and a medical implant will be able to monitor and send medical data to your doctor. Where is all of this data going to be and who owns it?

The answer is still in the making. Most companies do not want to own the data, rather they simply want to have access to it (after all owning assumes more responsibility). Currently, the security of data is questionable, with recent data security breaches that are becoming more and more common.

3. What about access? Will others be able to access data without owning it?

Can start-ups and non-profits access existing data? Will they have to pay to the owners of the data?

This is an interesting question that again goes back to ownership. Companies that collect data may be more reluctant to share it with others – not least of all for security reasons (is that even legal?).

The ownership of data is still something that litigators and companies are going to have to figure out as Internet of Things gives us access to more (often private) information.

4. Is IoT going to lead to too much data? What will happen to intentionally building applications with a specific end result in mind?

The idea behind Internet of Things is that with cheaper devices, cheap connectivity and cheaper storage prices, it will become easier to collect as much data as possible in order to mine it 5, 10, or 20 years after. On the other hand, in the past (and still today), companies, data analysts and software developers have to put considerable thought into their application and software designs.

Will the ability to have any data change the way applications are built? Will the design process stop concentrating on exactly targeting one piece of information in favor of planning and collecting all possible information? Will that lead us into an age of too much data, where we have a lot of potential information stored in massive amounts of undiscernible data?


Most likely, however, application development will split into two main camps: there will be applications that require real-time data, and therefore will have more specific design and data requirements. The other camp will include companies that are analyzing their customer behavior or products in the long run. These companies will rely on huge amounts of data that will be analyzed after it has been collected to find useful correlations.

5. What is the best way to innovate and make the internet of things a reality?

Innovate around commercial models, listen to the customer, and concentrate on your key strengths. Rapid adaptation by consumers is key, and if part of your plan to create new products is out of your core specialty, it might make sense to partner with someone who already has that expertise in order to deliver the best product. Distributed teams will become more common as companies try to create devices that combine elements of software, data analysis and functional design.

Find something new, be intelligent in your product and operations design and you are more likely to end up with an advantageous product.

Oh, and never give up.

Read next:
5 more questions (and answers) about the Internet of Things
The brave new world of the Internet of things
Software engineering without borders and boundaries (download)

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