A flash flood of IoT hype

Written by on February 18, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Internet-of-Things-landscapeI haven’t met Alex Brisbourne, but I’d sure like to. He is President and COO of KORE Telematics, a mobile virtual network for M2M connections and the Chairman of the International M2M Council (IMC), and he is not frightened to say what he thinks of the direction the Internet of Things (IoT) is heading.

Way back in 2013 he had a blog post published on Forbes.com where he saw “a flash flood of IoT hype, driven largely in my opinion by a ‘cow looking over the fence’ mindset where people are asking, ‘what’s that shiny thing over there’ and trying to find a way to develop new applications; not all have a well-considered purpose and business model behind them.”

Spot on Alex, but sadly, not much has changed since then. He also noted that “when you boil it down to its elements, the Internet of Things is, today, little more than an expansion of traditional telematics, security and asset control applications.”

And one couldn’t agree more that in the ensuing time “activity has centered upon consumer-facing applications; most have not gotten traction, from pet and teen trackers to wireless car starters. The trouble is that few have stopped to consider the long-term value proposition.”

His view was that this consumer-centricity would always fight for a share of personal disposable income. With the plethora of seemingly endless apps and devices becoming available, those same consumers will either opt to be early adopters and get some ‘show-off’ value, or simply wait and see what survives that may be of use to them. It’s not that today’s consumer expects great longevity in new technology, he/she just doesn’t like to get caught with a dud.

For Brisbourne, connectivity was the main issue then. “Many people are talking ‘what if’ scenarios for areas as diverse as connected food, healthcare, gun tracking and home appliances, but if there’s no connectivity, there’s no ‘what if.’” And, by golly, it’s exactly the same issue today.

His advice was for developers to ‘design in’ connectivity, presumably so it is transparent to the user so he/she doesn’t have to worry about what network they are connected to and whether the data traffic is part of an allowance or be persecuted whilst roaming. Surely the concept of ‘sponsored data’ should be more utilized, but sadly, it is not.

Shoot forward to 2015, and Brisbourne has not let up in his attempts for the IoT to be taken more seriously. In a recent article published in Mobile Europe he said that “a degree of realism is long overdue.” His first suggestion was to “shoot a lot of analysts” (and who could disagree with that?) for their “very, very wacky predictions from the market side.” For Brisbourne, and myself, the ”talk of millions, billions or trillions of connections obfuscates the real issue of how the sector will actually work.”

And here lies the greatest dilemma. It’s not just the IoT gizmos, devices, apps, connectivity, privacy, security and data management that are the issues – it’s all of them combined. Who will want to take responsibility for the whole package and present it to consumers and enterprises in the simplest possible form, offering the best value?

Add to that the fact that standards and regulations are way behind the innovation curve and you can understand trepidation creeping in to buying decisions today. Let’s hope Brisbourne’s pragmatism and his role in the IMC bear fruit and we end up with an IoT that really does benefit to the ‘real’ world.

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About the Author: Tony is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide. .

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