IoT… say wha?!

A few days ago, I attended a networking event around IoT Revolution. IoT is the future… well, cognitive IoT is according to the keynote speaker and it got me thinking, how much do my close peeps know about this and how involved are they? And here we are to talk about it!

The term IoT came into my life about one year ago when I started a new role at my company. Part of my team works in this space from the supply chain side. I first liked the way it sounded when they talked about it in meetings but I had no clue what the abbreviation stands for until later. I’ve heard of IOU’s before cuz you know ‘I Owe You” happens but was it a typo? What is IoT? Internet of Things! Aaaahh, now we know! But what does it mean? Let me tell you as I understand it.

We live in a word that is connected. We hear our data is being collected, secured, compromised, shared, but what does this mean? And what can kind of data is IoT enabled? Good questions, right?! And as I heard more about these things: data, digitization, intent-based, the network, cloud and a gazillion other words that were all new to me, I had to take the time to try and understand each as much as I could. I am not in a technical job but I work in a technical company and my life is so much easier when at the very least have a high level understanding of things. So we have a bunch of things these days that are connected as I was saying. For instance, you can turn your lights on/off at home from your mobile device while you are at work. And remember, most people were fitness trackers these days too making details of activity, calories burned and other info readily available to them to track progress. Wireless headphones. Connected devices. So does that mean that bluetooth enabled stuff is IoT? Let’s find out!

This was in fact the opening question to a panel of IoT specialists who had been in the industry for over 15 years. I mean who new this was even happening 15 years ago? I was living in a Guatemala then and using a computer was by far the coolest thing available so what would I know. Back to IoT. One of the experts clarified that in order for something to be considered IoT it needs to meet certain criteria because adding bluetooth capabilities to stuff just won’t cut it. Let’s dig into what I learned:

  1. Connecting something to a secured intent-based network
  2. Collect data from such connected device that can be used to answer a specific question
  3. The solution has to add value to the product/process

So for instance, cars these days are getting super fancy. And while there are sensors that will let you know that your tire is low in air, we could use an IoT sensor that could not only inform exactly how much air do you need to add but it would collect data about how many hours is the wheel moving, the type of road the car is driven on, and a whole bunch of stuff I can’t even think of. BUT does it add value? Say adding this sensor would cost an additional $1K to the customer and it would take an additional three weeks of lead time to produce the tire. So, does it add value? The manufacturer of the car and the customer might feel that this is not of value because they are not willing to pay more and take longer to get their car on the roads without that lil extra something… so, while IoT can be used, it truly needs to solve a problem, ya know answer a specific question, for it to be considered IoT solution. Makes sense?

Let’s look at one another scenario. So we have electronics everywhere. Imagine you can add bluetooth capabilities to your microwave. With the Internet of Things we can develop an app that will allow you to turn on/off your microwave using your phone. Is that really IoT solution or just plain too much technology? I think is the second because you still have to use your pretty hands to place frozen burrito in the microwave and you still have to use your fingers to start it the difference is that instead of punching the numbers directly on the microwave you use your smartphone… not a real problem, not a real solution on my opinion. Just because we can connect things it doesn’t mean we should connect them unless it truly improves the product and people won’t want to pay more for something that doesn’t really make their lives and this world any better.

And with that comes another big problem… security! I don’t know about you but I go on this security paranoia cycles because our information is on the network and being hacked and then secured again and then hacked again and secured again and hacked yet again and secured again… and again, and again, and again! Because our microwave from earlier uses the network to reach your smartphone it can also be hacked so you can someone starting and stopping it and your frozen burrito can’t finish cookingggg!!! You get it, right? It is all over the news and data breaches are a daily thing now. So whenever IoT happens they need to consider a gazillion possibilities of securities breaches and that my friends is no joke!

I two final thoughts for you and hope that IoT makes more sense to you know if it didn’t before. And if I am understanding this capability wrong don’t quote me on anything cuz hey, I am just saying it as I understood it from the workshop and maybe I got it wrong (hello, I am human!). Ok, again, two final thoughts:

  • IoT is here. Smart houses, smart cities, smart phones, smart everything. The benefits of a well designed IoT product are great. However, given the cost and demand don’t add up just yet, it is not affordable to everyone to make their homes smarter… yet! The demand is on the increase which means that it will soon be more affordable to us hard working citizens in the near future. It will make our lives better especially as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is  improving. Will these two take away our jobs… maybe a little which means you need to acquire the skills that are on demand on not those that will soon be obsolete.
  • The idea to write about IoT came to me because one of the panelists said it needed to add value to a solution and would improve stuff. Now here is my challenge to you all smarty pants out there: you might not be a technical person like myself but if you can figure how can the new generation of technology improve something, you will make bank! I, while sure wanting to get more money, am far more interested in finding a solution that will truly madly deeply take cars off the roads and reduce the carbon footprint. Uber and Lyft were great ideas except now more people are leaving their regular job to be drivers all day long…. adding more cars on the roads and not very much reducing their carbon footprint. So I think, if someone can come up with a solution to less cars, boom! Mother Earth will stop being a bitch to us cuz let’s face it, we are killing her.

Here is a link to one of the keynote speaker’s book on Amazon. Maybe I am not getting it right or explaining it right but you can get her book and do your own research. Toodles!



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