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Defining the Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has many personas and definitions; from the original description of a uniquely addressable network for objects, through to Cisco’s “IoE” Internet of Everything: people, process, data and things. There are even acronyms for specific sectors – IoAT for the Internet of AgriThings is just one example.

For me it’s where connected objects share their data and derivable, actionable insights to help make smarter decisions for the benefit of humans.

Defining Internet of Things

Concept or confusion?

While these definitions are great for the research analysts and people in the IoT industry, it just doesn’t help those that need it the most and, consequently, where the majority of the market is. Does a city councillor care about mesh networks? Does a GP fret over what “unique” IoT platform company to use?

Understanding pain points

Before working for Innovate UK, I was in the private sector, working in enterprise sales – no surprise there for those that know me – and there was one sales principle drilled into me over and over again: understand your customer’s pain points.

Vaguely specific

That doesn’t mean speaking in jargon and overwhelming them with acronyms to show that you understand the technology. Nor does it mean speaking about vague and lofty principles to emphasise how “strategic” you can think.

The value of how

What is missing from almost all of our IoT definitions – and yes, I include my own as well – is the applicable value that IoT can bring. It could be, for example, the £130,000 saved by a city not having to purchase more waste collection trucks. Or the overwatering of almond crops leading to reduced profits and overconsumption of limited resources. It turns what is usually a wordy, technical or an exact statement into something that is relatable. Something that anyone can immediately grasp the potential of and ask the next logical and most important question: how?

(Value) In it to win it

Does that mean there are tens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of “definitions”? Yes. Are there plenty of IoT experts that disagree? Very much so. But if that’s what it takes for IoT to be readily adopted and implemented, then I’m all for it.

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