Starting from January 2014, right after Google announced its $3.2 Billion acquisition of NEST, the expression “Internet of Things”, known as IoT, has suddenly become the big buzz word in all different industries. Engineers and business leaders are having all kinds of discussion around this area over social media. And some among them did successfully transform their business by creating disruptive innovations based on IoT oriented technologies, such as Parrot or Withings.
However, among all those discussions and successful business cases, there is one question that was never clearly answered: what’s the big idea about internet of things? I think that everyone may have his/her own answer to this question and there does not exist an absolute definition to which we can look upon. I would like to share my own opinions about the true nature of IoT here.
First of all, to understand the term “internet of things”, we have to start with the word “things” that refers to the products that are enabling IoT usages. There are two important features about these products: mobility & connectivity. These two features have already served in many consumer and industry use cases , and their main purpose is: collecting live information from anywhere at any time. This leads us to the second important element of IoT – data.
When you have one device collecting information for you, the outcome of that process is called data. But when you have billions of connected devices that are collecting all different types of information for you, then it will become Big Data. In my opinion, Big Data is the derived content of IoT. Its purpose is to be analyzed in order to better understand the behaviors of systems or consumers. Once companies can identify the patterns and interrelations among different behaviors, which seem to be random or disordered, they can anticipate events or activities that will occur in the near future and build an offer to bring additional value to users. The best way to deliver such additional value is through services.
Service is the third important element of IoT. It is also the most profitable and valuable part of the entire IoT value chain. If product and data are about creating needs, services are usually designed to be the exact solution to satisfy those needs. For instance, if I have a product which collects information about one’s body weight, it will collect a huge amount of data about people’s weight. From those data, I find out that people will start looking for professional advices once their body weight is 30% above the average. It allows bringing fitness services offering to those people to satisfy their needs. This provides an extraordinary user experience to the end consumers.
Now, the answer to my previous question seems to be obvious, the big idea of IoT is to have connected devices collecting data for analysis, and offer exceptional services based on the result of the analysis, to create unique user experiences.
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* Hong Bai is the High-Tech Industry Mechatronic System Design Consultant @ Dassault Systèmes. In his role, Hong is working with worldwide leading Electronics companies to support their key business process transformation initiatives.