Internet of Things: Boom or Bust for Business?

As the amount of ‘connected’ equipment and devices continues to grow, commercial integrators must understand how they can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) versus more narrowly focused competitors.

In 2012 it was cloud, and in 2013 it was big data. As we close 2014 and move into 2015, the buzz this year has surrounded the Internet of Things (IoT).

The IT industry is anxious to keep itself on the leading edge, and that can sometimes lead to overhyping a trend before its true value is proven.

Is that the case with IoT? And how will this play out for commercial integrators? CompTIA‘s latest study, Sizing Up the Internet of Things, takes an early look at this hot topic, trying to get beyond the hype and determine where the real opportunities are.

A Brief History of Connected Things

As with cloud and big data, there’s no revolutionary premise behind IoT. The first use of the term is widely attributed to Kevin Ashton, Auto-ID Center at MIT, who used it in a 1999 presentation he made to Procter & Gamble.

The Internet has allowed for connected devices for decades, and everyday non-computing products have already achieved some form of connectedness with technology such as RFID.

However, multiple advances in technology have drastically changed the scope of the situation. Thanks to factors such as miniaturization of sensors and chips, robust wireless networks, and IPv6, the number of connected “things” is projected to skyrocket from roughly a half billion in 2000 to 50.1 billion in 2020.

With all of these intelligent systems in play and sharing data, there would certainly appear to be an increased demand for all kinds of technical support.

  • Gathering contextual information about customers
  • Stiff IoT Competition

    Integrators trying to get a foothold in the space should start by understanding the different pieces that come together to form the IoT ecosystem. Hardware, software and connectivity may all be relatively routine — with a few new angles here and there — but there are two major components to be considered.

    The first major piece is the rules that will be written, especially in the area of standards and protocols that allow devices to talk to each other.

    The second component is services, an area that typically might lie outside the ecosystem but is so crucial to IoT that it becomes a main ingredient. These services will build around specific IoT functions.

    For each new function, existing integrators will be forced to compete with new companies that are more narrowly focused. In the device space, both break/fix and device management will move from standard office equipment to a wide range of connected devices with new requirements for power and networking.

    For data analytics, new data warehousing techniques and analytics tools will often be complementary to traditional techniques. And integration efforts will involve new APIs as cloud systems form the backbone for IoT infrastructure.

    “Internet of Things” may not be the catchiest name ever, but it does reflect the broad challenges in place for the industry.

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