Don’t Panic 1

During a smart city meet up today the words ‘Internet of Things’ fell, which triggered the fellow behind me to whisper in my ear “Humpf….the Internet-of-Things isn’t…”. I responded by pointing at the back of my t-shirt, which said “The Internet-of-Things sucks”. Both cases can be argued, but with all this talk about IoT, surely it must be ‘something’?

And of course it is something, or more accurately, it’s more ‘sum’ than ‘thing’. The IoT is not a technology, not hardware or software or connectivity. It’s not robots or people or a business, it’s not a bird, it’s not a plane and it certainly isn’t Superman. As said, it might be the ‘sum’ of all those ‘things’ (except Superman, he’s got nothing to do with it……probably).

The IoT is a paradigm shift in a way that the internet is moving, again. From desktop to laptop to hand held to two-hand held devices, Internet has always been on the move. Right now, it’s moving to your things. So what’s the big deal then? That doesn’t sound like such a big step, right? Wrong.

For as long as it exists, the internet has been about ‘getting information’ more than supplying it. This, of course, is not true, as no information can be gotten with someone supplying it first. Our emotions, however, see it as a place to ‘get’, a place where things can be gotten for ‘free’. Am I putting a picture on Facebook to share the picture? Maybe, but I sure want those ‘free’ likes to stroke my ego. That’s the information I’m looking for.

Inadvertently, I’m supplying a lot of information about myself that I didn’t set out to share in the first place. Do I care about that information? Not really, but I did not log in to Facebook with the sheer purpose of giving Zuckerberg my vital statistics to build a billion dollar business on. Can you imagine that marketing campaign? “Give us your personal information, and we’ll give you more and better adds!”

And this is where the paradigm is shifting. By moving the internet to our things, we are consciously and actively seeking ways to provide information about us (our things) to parties who help us act on that information. Why aren’t we apprehensive about this? Because we understand how this information enables services which directly enhance the value of said ‘thing’, whereas we don’t see a straight-line benefit in telling Zuckerberg about our sexual preferences.

“The IoT is like finally figuring out that when you tell the doctor about your problem, (s)he can help you much better than when you keep your mouth shut.”

When people readily and eagerly supply information, the amount of useful information available will increase mind-blowingly; lowering reaction time, reversing marketing approaches, shifting value propositions, changing business models and in general; scrambling the ingredients of business-as-we-know-it into one completely new delicious dish. And that’s where companies go haywire.

If everything is scrambling, how do you make sure your company is still standing when the omelette comes out of the pan? More on that in part 2 of Don’t Panic.

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