When the Han Chinese printer Bi Sheng invented movable type printing technology in the 11th century, I’m sure he had little idea that he was setting the ball rolling for machine-enabled communication. I call this the phase where machines facilitated human interaction. Several centuries later, Englishman Charles Babbage set the stage for the second phase when he invented the computer, enabling human-machine interaction. Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) has taken us to the third phase-machine-to-machine interaction. Interestingly, the concept of device-to-device communication was introduced way back in 1999 when Bill Joy presented his idea at the World Economic Forum at Davos
I can think of three drivers that have led to the speedy adoption of IoT technologies by industries across the spectrum. The first is the benefits that technology offers. Take for instance the smart refrigerator that can monitor contents, recommend suitable food, and even place online orders for grocery items. The second is the fact that acceptance levels of new devices are high, today’s consumers being a tech savvy lot. The third driver is the ripple effect: automation of one part of a device or process is bringing about a need for automation of another part leading to what I call IoTization.
I see increasing application of IoT in the automotive, healthcare, energy and utilities and consumer electronics sectors. Telematics sensors in cars can enable road safety and easier vehicle maintenance. I’m waiting for the day when Google’s driverless car will hit the roads. Or will I be driving Tesla’s 90% autonomous car first? In healthcare, I find that IoT is making inroads into the curative care space as well, with microbots and nanobots reaching the most inaccessible parts of the human body. Just imagine the medical breakthroughs possible with a robot like MagnetoSperm that can perform activities ranging from targeted drug delivery to declogging arteries! Smart metering and smart grids in the energy and utility space, NFC-enabled smart phones in the consumer electronics space…. IoT seems to have something to offer to every sector.
However, I find enterprises assailed with several doubts surrounding this complex technology. For instance, what should be the basis for a product IoTization? I have therefore come out with a methodology called IoT CUVE (Customer Value Enhancement) for conducting an ecosystem-oriented cost-benefit analysis. I have compiled an exhaustive list of decisive factors for this purpose: capital expenditure, service value, customer value, cost of conversion and potential customer base.
Let’s say a manufacturer of heaters and boilers has to decide whether to IoT-enable their household water heaters or industrial boilers. They can apply this methodology for each and t