Internet of Things

What is the future of IoT?

At the 2018 LiveWorx conference, Kevin Ashton, who coined the term 'IoT,' explained how he thinks the Internet of Things will develop over time.

Kevin Ashton coined the term "Internet of Things." During LiveWorx 2018, he spoke with TechRepublic's Alison DeNisco Rayome about IoT and where he envisions it going in the future.

Kevin Ashton: "The Internet of Things" is a term I coined in 1999. I think we've always thought of it as a sort of a 100 year rollout. So, in one sense we're in year 18 right now.

But, the other thing to keep in mind is, I don't think the progression of the Internet of Things is gonna be linear. We're gonna see more and more Internet of Things, applications, more and more Internet of Things value every year. So, although we're 17 years in, we're not 17% done yet.

And, I think what we're gonna see is increasing integration of network sensors into things like manufacturing processes, robotics, transportation systems.

SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)

Yeah, there's always a lot of focus on the smart home. I'm not as excited about that as I am about some other things. Self-driving cars is an easy example to talk about. We're gonna quickly move into a world where, come, I don't know, 2030 or thereabouts, a lot of new cars are gonna be driving themselves. A lot of the rides we take will be in vehicles that are driving themselves. We'll get used to that very quickly, and that will be an example of an Internet of Things-enabled application that becomes ubiquitous, that has radical impact on how we live.

And, a lot of CIOs, CEOs, people, ask. I do consulting. You know, "What do we do about the internet of things?" My answer is always, "Start gradually." I think the worse thing you can do is decide that the Internet of Things is a big deal, therefore you're gonna invest a hundred million dollars in it, and you're gonna hope that hundred million dollars becomes two hundred million dollars in a year.

It's really much better to look for an annoying, small problem that your customer has, whether your product or your service. Or, an opportunity where they really want you to deliver to them. Add a single network-connected sensor to a single product or a single, internal process. Get one, specific piece of value out of that.

When it's working, ask yourself two questions: what would happen if we added another, different sensor to this? Or, what else could we do with the data that we're getting from the sensor we've already got? Generally, the answers to those questions lead to more value.

And then you just ask the question again: What if we add another sensor? What if we do something else with this data? And, over a period of several years, you go from two sensor to four, to 16, to hundreds. And, a few dollars of value to a few billion dollars of value.

So, I really believe that adjusting to the internet of things age is a gradual, continuous process, not some sudden revolution that delivers immediate benefits.

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Image: iStock/Metamorworks

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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