How Does IOT Change Our Applications?

In my opinion, the greatest value of the Internet of Things (IOT) is the ability to capture actionable data. Here’s a simple example. A refrigerator manufacturer produces an internet aware refrigerator. As the owner of the refrigerator is using products they keep cool inside, they find they need to replenish something. They can tell the refrigerator to re-order from their favorite vendor. The refrigerator makes the purchase on their account, and the product shows up on the refrigerator display when it is ready to be picked up, or tells them when the product will be delivered to their location.

The value of the IOT transaction is that the item is replaced with the least effort of the individual. The direct value to the manufacturer is the people will purchase their product because it provides additional value. The indirect value is that they are able to capture demographic data against which they can make actionable decisions. They may use the fact that a large number of their customers are purchasing their products from a particular store or web site. They can then negotiate an alliance the benefits both companies to increase sales.

We get the premise of IOT. It’s not hard to figure out how to use the information in a meaningful way. It’s not hard to come up with features that are attractive to customers. So what’s left?

One of the aspects of IOT is that it utilizes the internet, the “I” in IOT. That’s obvious of course. The problem is that exposing anything to the internet is how to do it safely. Embedding features in a machine is not that difficult. I’ll be Android and Linux are going crazy with implementations. Now, all of the sudden, you have billions of IOT devices you have to harden from hackers. A single hacker could figure out how to get a bunch of refrigerators to start acting up resulting in bringing your business offline through denial of service attacks.

Many online stores have already had to resolve and harden their sites protecting them from hacking. Now with the ability to have thousands, or millions of devices hitting your web site to make a purchase of lettuce, you’re may be having to build web sites and services with a lot more thought, security, performance, failover, expandability, etc. It won’t be long before companies are going to have to rival the capabilities of very highly trafficked web sites to handle little IOT transactions.

I have a few observations based on this projection.

  1. We are going to need more web architects, especially web services, capable of producing Web Scale services
  2. We are going to need more embedded controller experts able to implement internet clients with strong security
  3. We are going to have an interesting culture shift where people are giving up privacy of information for convenience
  4. We are going to need regulations regarding privacy of the information collected

Have you started to shift into IOT? Share your story in our comments? Is this just hype?