The Economist: The language of the internet of things

ATN-300InsightaaS: The Economist is one of the world’s most respected sources of insight into business and social issues, and often achieves the rare feat of connecting both perspectives into a single analysis. It can be a tricky balance in IT coverage, though, since many IT subjects beg analysis that may be too technical for business-oriented readers. “The language of the internet of things” covers one such subject. It deals with a subject – the need for interoperability standards that will enable billions of IoT devices to contribute data to a cohesive repository of Big Data – that is necessary to the future that pundits and business executives foresee, and which is becoming more pressing with each new deployment of sensors and other connected devices, analytics systems that aggregate and make sense of the data, and business applications that rely on this output.

However, the standard editorial approach of selecting one high-profile example of a potential solution, examining the problem through the lens of this example, and then simply listing other possible solutions does not really do justice to the topic of IoT interoperability. The consortium that The Economist selects as the centrepiece of its article, the AllSeen Alliance, certainly includes some important players (Microsoft, Qualcomm, and others), but it is not generally considered to be a clear leader (or even a leader at all) in this area; other initiatives, such as the Industrial Internet Consortium, which boasts founding members who are leaders in industrial machinery and automation (GE), Big Data analytics (IBM), and networking and communications (Cisco and AT&T), are arguably better aligned with IoT standards development requirements.

Analysis of this subject would benefit from the kind of comparative examination practiced by analyst firms, which identify market requirements and then assess the potential for different approaches to win support. However, The Economist’s point of view does have merit, in that it raises an important issue with a business executive audience that would be unlikely to follow IT analyst pronouncements. This democratization of insight into key IoT success factors illustrates how far along the ‘hype cycle’ IoT has progressed!

THERE was a time, not long ago, when access to the internet could be gained only through a computer. Now people can get to it using phones, tablets and some games consoles. Increasingly, other devices are becoming internet-linked too, as connectivity is extended to everyday objects such as televisions, radios, watches and cars.

The “internet of things” promises a technological revolution, but for it to work well these things need to speak the same language. Industry, however, tends to adopt common standards–if at all–only after jostling between rival producers with competing systems. It was so for trains, televisions, video recorders, mobile phones and the internet itself. And it will be the same for connected devices.

A number of industry groups are trying to standardise how things connect and communicate. One of the most prominent is the AllSeen Alliance, a consortium of firms from such diverse worlds as semiconductors, white goods, consumer electronics and retail…

Read the entire article on The Economist’s website: Link


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