The Litmus Test For Internet Of Things
A Swiss customer of ours recently harnessed the power of machine-to-machine communications by hooking up one of its customers – the largest Brewery in Switzerland – with intelligent beer tanks. Patrons no longer have to worry about running dry of their favorite brew, as the kegs now automatically order a refill once at the peril of running empty.
Meanwhile, I also spent some time going through Cisco System’s vision on Internet of Things (IoT). Although I may be cutting a few corners here, the gist of the matter is that by 2020 or so, pretty much everything that can be connected will be. The only limitation is our imagination.
But is it really so?
Although intelligent beer tanks do sound imaginative for a layman like me, that may not not hold true for someone who has been responsible for the associated logistics. If you were running a chain of bars, the downside of being left with empty tanks is very real. So although the solution in itself was creative for sure, the underlying problem that the technology solves is very concrete. I bet they even made a business case.
A common phenomena in the technology industry is that even if something is technically possible, there are no guarantees that the concept would ever be adopted by users. Developing new technology concepts tends to be costly, and most things we use in our daily life do not really produce that much value. With this in mind, even if you furnish something that creates only little value with a chip and hook it to the cloud, it is by no means certain there will be any meaningful utility even if imagination was at play.
Rather than winging it on imagination, I have come to realize that there is a simple litmus test for identifying the feasibility of various IoT concepts. It goes like this:
Does my IoT concept provide machine-aided anticipation?
In the beer tank example, the answer would most definitely be an unequivocal yes. The intelligent beer tank is not only capable of anticipating the risk of running empty, but autonomously saves the day by ordering a refill. Some variation of this same theme would also seem to apply to most of the 10 Cool Companies That are Monetizing Internet Of Things published in CloudTweaks on July 21 st 2014.
Posing this question to test imaginative concepts is important because it reveals how much utility the application is likely to create. Technologies that improve our lives in some concrete way are usually the ones that resonate with the buying public.
The future for IoT is certainly bright, as long we get past the ”anything is possible” hubris. Instead, we must focus on applications that produce concrete value. Where there is value, there is a way.
By Juha Holkkola
Juha Holkkola is managing director of Nixu Software Oy Ltd, the cloud application deployment company, an affiliate of Nixu. He joined Nixu in early 2000 and has since held various business and sales management positions. Before Nixu, Juha worked for Nokia Networks and financial services company Danske Bank in marketing and treasury positions.