According the Gartner Hype Cycle for 2014, the Internet of Things is at the height of the peak of inflated expectations and is estimated to take 5-10 years to reach its plateau. Five to 10 years may seem like a long time but many organisations are already laying the ground work for their products and services to be competitive in the environment of the Internet of Things (IoT). What does this mean for the CIO, what are the priorities today in developing technologies that are interconnected?
IoT is defined as everyday objects which contain embedded technology to communicate sense and interact with the environment in which they are placed. As more information is produced these objects will interact between themselves with the aim to improve the quality of human life; for example, your car detects from a tyre sensor that the tread depth will be illegal in around 200 miles and will need replacing in a week based on your driving habits in the last week. The car automatically books an appointment at the local service centre and orders the exact tyre from the manufacturer at the best price.
The potential scale of the IoT is huge. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that 50 billion devices could be connected to each other via the internet by 2020. According to Cisco there are potentially 1.5 trillion things that could be connected to the internet, equivalent to about 200 connectable things per person in the world today. Sensors linked to the internet will generate a substantial and continuous flow of data back to the business.
And this is one of the biggest issues that the profession faces today.
As the Chartered Institute for IT, we'll be discussing the benefits and the issues at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences later this month – our aim is to make politicians aware of what IoT means for society, the economy, and industry.
The full benefits of IoT are yet to be realised but the potential is enormous. However, we believe that there is more to be considered than simply the technology. The issues of the data that will be produced will create issues for privacy and trust that every organisation, including Government, will face.
As IT professionals, CIOs and an industry, we should be working together not only to develop the technology but tackling the subsequent questions of data, not just its collection, that is well understood and probably unstoppable, but more how we use the data.
The TRUSTe Consumer Confidence Index 2014 found that 89% of internet users claimed to avoid companies that they believe do not protect their privacy. There has also been a drop in the number of British internet users that trust companies with their personal information online – down from 63% to 55% in the last two years.
Transforming this lack of trust will be central to ensuring that IoT can ultimately deliver the benefits to society and business that we all anticipate. We need to ensure that we consider transparency in collecting data, so that consumers are aware of what data is being collected, how it will be used and what they are agreeing to by signing terms and conditions. The collection of data needs to be presented in a way that gives consumers more control. However, this isn't just an issue here in the UK, the IoT will be global, it's an issue for the profession on a global scale.