The Roadblock to the Internet of Things

In the same way that attrition has plagued the wearables market and fragmentation has slowed the smartphone marketplace, the Internet of Things faces its own roadblock – isolationism.

A future powered by the Internet of Things is on its way, and its impact will be massive. Everything we can imagine will be automated and predictive, making our entire lives exponentially more efficient. But the ongoing isolation of data and hardware means the realization of that future remains many years away.

The Internet of Things is a movement grounded in data. That data is shared within a network of devices and sensors, all contributing to a collective intelligence to create value that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Someday, we will drive on smart roads that communicate with the entire transportation grid, rerouting the flow of traffic, saving time and money while communicating our latest information back to our homes and families so they can optimize their lives in turn. In the absence of these elements – interconnectivity, intelligence and value – there is no Internet of Things, only isolated devices making decisions based upon their own proprietary set of data.

We are not living in the age of the Internet of Things, even as we see the different elements of it being developed every day, because the IoT is not something that hardware manufacturers have the power to create. Cisco estimates that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020, yet total device shipments is a poor indicator of the penetration of the IoT because the majority of those devices are not benefiting from a broader set of data that would allow them to make more informed decisions.

Isolationism is a cultural problem as much as it is a software problem. In order to maximize the power of the data contained within the IoT, consumers need to understand the value that comes from allowing their data to be shared within their own personal ecosystem. When they do, history has shown us that they will be more willing to share that data openly.

This is where marketing of the IoT becomes critical. Nest was a pioneer in creating a tangible value proposition within the connected home – more data from more sources means less unnecessary cooling and heating, which leads directly to cost savings. To truly enter the age of the IoT, we must adopt this thinking, apply it more broadly to our entire lives and quantifiably demonstrate the incremental impacts of aggregated data. Incorporating one device into our personal Internet of Things will lower our energy bills by 10%, but connecting two will lower it by 15%, three by 18%, and so on.

Until that time, we will continue to connect billions of devices to the Internet, preparing ourselves for the day that the interconnectivity, intelligence and value of the Internet of Things are finally realized.

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