Business executives should not ignore the Internet of Things concept as it is set to play a key role in business, say analysts Gartner.

The Internet of Things encompasses an increasingly diverse range of devices and communications streams, many of which will essentially be machine-to-machine communications, rather than involving a person at either endpoint, said Gartner.

Gartner defines the Internet of Things as the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and interact with their internal states or the external environment.

Stephen Prentice, an analyst at Gartner, said: "Manufacturing opportunities, deployment, activation and ongoing management of millions of devices, and the analytical opportunities arising from massive streams of potentially real-time information, all represent huge untapped business opportunities through the Internet of Things."

Hung LeHong, another Gartner analyst, said: "Business leaders find the diversity of current Internet of Things applications fails to make a compelling business case to explore or commit resources to this emergent area. Equally, 'serious' enterprise applications seem worlds apart from the apparently consumer-focused Internet of Things buzz.

"However, over the past decade, the consumerisation of IT has increasingly encroached on enterprise IT, steadily infiltrating and subverting enterprise infrastructure.

"The days when technology originated in military and government circles and then filtered down via enterprises to individual end users are long gone, and the direction of technology migration has now been totally reversed, so skeptics would be well-advised to monitor these consumer-facing developments closely," LeHong said.

Much of the differentiation and value of the Internet of Things resides not in the device, said Gartner, nor even the connectivity, but in the data aggregation, data-processing and decision-making activities that take advantage of the data streams emanating from the device.