The Internot of Things: Linking Machine to Machine, Separating Hype from Hope

By Lager, Marshall | CRM Magazine, February 2017 | Go to article overview

The Internot of Things: Linking Machine to Machine, Separating Hype from Hope


Lager, Marshall, CRM Magazine


BY NOW you've no doubt heard all, or perhaps too much, about the Internet of Things, or the IoT for short. The ability to connect sensors and devices to one another via the cloud without human intervention is a neat idea, and I'm sure it will pave the way for the inevitable fall of our society to new robot overlords. The state of the world being what it is, this might not be so bad.

Even so, I've been hesitant to delve too deeply into the IoT as a topic of exploration until recently. Too many people name-check it into conversations where it doesn't seem to belong--mostly vendors who want to be heard talking about the shiny new thing--and that always makes me suspicious.

The good news is that companies seeking to adopt IoT technology appear to be doing it for the right reasons. A recent Ovum survey revealed that the top three drivers of IoT adoption were improving customer engagement and experiences, improving operational efficiency, and strategic decision making based on actionable insights. That third one reads like corporate double-talk, but it's legit; boiled down, it's just another way of talking about Big Data, which the IoT can deliver via linked sensors and devices.

If the IoT takes off the way people want it to, possibilities abound for micro-targeted services, more accurate data collection in a plethora of applications, complex workflows triggered without people, better device reliability through failure prevention, you name it. Creative designers can do some sci-fi stuff with machine-to-machine communication.

But there are downsides to an IoT world. First off, businesses face a number of adoption hurdles that must be overcome before any of this is worth it. The biggest one is privacy and security. We've seen that the IoT is hackable--the mass Internet outages of October 2016 were staged from mobile and IoT devices. Privacy is an issue when you're carrying around surveillance equipment you can't see or control. We've thought about how much of ourselves we give away with selfies, check-ins, and location-based services, but those are mostly conscious choices. The IoT is supposed to be unobtrusive, so you could forget what you're broadcasting. It's the potential dark side--the id, if you will--of the IoT. …

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