The Internet of Things (IoT) seems to be the new technology buzzword word of choice and if you’re not ubiquitously dropping the term in your daily vocabulary then you’re simply just not in the know. Or at least that what’s some people would like us to believe. The way the term IoT is being used today is reminiscent of the way “cloud” was being used in the days of yesteryear. Many of us didn’t even really realize that the technology we were using in our everyday personal lives like email services (i.e. Hotmail and Gmail) were built on the transformational principles of the “cloud.” The IoT is seemingly being used to define every new technology from every company and as long as you buy their one point solution you will be capturing the, “AMAZING benefits of IoT (In the voice of Oz).” As the blog title suggests the term has become so trite that it seems to be a fictional technology nirvana that you can’t see, feel, or touch, but will be amazed once its powers cast down on your company.
The problem with terms such as “cloud” and “IoT” are that they are catchalls. It’s a type of term that our lovely politicians yearn for. You can use the term recklessly and not be right, but also not be wrong. It’s the best of both worlds. But as a company and consumer of technology, it is important that we understand what the IoT is and how we recognize it, enable it, and then leverage it to benefit how we run.
So to get to the bottom of this once and for all I went to the one source of truth in this world (or at least where my fellow millennials and I believe we can find it)….Wikipedia. IoT is defined by the wonderful contributors of Wikipedia as the network of physical objects-devices, vehicles, buildings and other items-embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. Well that seems a little more specific, but one thing I find interesting is that it does not cite one specific technology or solution. It rather seems to be referencing a collaboration of technologies from a hardware and software perspective.
This is where the terms cloud and IoT begin to deviate. Cloud is a foundational component of a technology that we use (ie. CRM, Pay to Procurement, Email etc.), while IoT is the amalgamation of different and disparate technology solutions. An analogy I like to use is an orchestra. A violin player’s music heard on its own is a pleasure, but it’s not until you add percussionist, woodwind instruments, and a brass ensemble that the sound turns into a rich story that emulates a musical conversation between the different instruments. Likewise, the IoT can be represented as a conversation of technology.
What does a conversation of technology look like? An example is a farm tractor that can automatically adjust the way it tills your crops based on sensors that test the acidity level in your soil. This same tractor would then also be capable of preemptively ordering a replacement part and scheduling a qualified technician to install it before the tractor ever actually breaks down. It’s the combination of the hardware and software systems that create a conversation around data.
I am fortunate enough to be able to attend SAP and ASUG’s SAPPHIRE from May 17-19, which is one of the largest global technology forums in the world. SAPPHIRE will be a display of SAP’s best technology and how our customers are using it for their business needs. I plan to use this opportunity to understand how SAP is defining their point of view of the IoT and how their technology is applicable to this trend. Don’t worry I will balance all this hard work with attending the Coldplay concert that the conference will be hosting for its attendees. I will report back in my next blog post…stay tuned!