IoTEveryone is talking about “The Internet of Things” but what does it really mean? Here’s my perspective:

Although this is going to sound crazy, it really isn’t about the Internet as we think about it today. It is about the technology that connects things.

Actually, let’s start by remembering back when the “Internet” was first drawn as a spider web or even now as it is drawn as a cloud. Instead of computers connected to other computers through that magical web or cloud, I want you to think about your thermostat, a grocery cart, a microscope, a commercial scale, a heat or water sensor, your mobile phone, and your TV, along with the computers in the picture.

So now that you are picturing this Internet of things (IoT), what does it mean for you? It means that the type of information we can send and receive to all of those “things” can open up many new possibilities.  You probably have seen some of them: turning up or down your thermostat from your phone on your way home from the airport, or the new prescription bottles that remind you to take your medicine by sending a message to your phone.  And there are others that you may not know about like sensors inside equipment that monitors if parts exceed their thresholds, wireless sensors embedded within concrete foundations to ensure structural integrity, farms measuring pesticide usage based on real-time sensor data, and so many more.From a business perspective what should you be doing? Start NOW. Honestly, this is not just for tech firms, in fact, it isn’t about them at all.

How would I suggest getting going? I would start by putting together a team of optimistic, forward thinking individuals from various departments/teams and different levels.  Don’t just call the heads of departments together.  Age and experience are not as important as you think in this situation. So how to find these people in your company? Think about emailing everyone and find out who is passionate and interested in this topic. Find out who tweets or blogs or likes these topics. Get creative.IoT body

Select a champion from this team if it isn’t you. In your first meeting, share information and simply talk about IoT.  Assume everyone there knows nothing as a starting place.  Provide examples of both consumer and business as well as in your industry and outside of it.

Next hold some facilitated brainstorming sessions to generate as many ideas as possible on how and what would help your customers, your business, and your employees.  When it comes to ideas, quantity over quality is really important when starting out, as well as no judgment at all. If you do not have any experience in how to hold and facilitate brainstorming session, get some help.

Then do something, NOW!  Seriously, the time it takes to go from the first step of meeting to the final step of producing an outcome is often many months.  And it will take 25% longer than you even plan.  So if it takes you 6-9 months to go through planning, design, building, implementation, and adoption you may only have 1 idea finished by the end of 2015 and that’s if everything goes according to plan.  But at least it will be one. You just have to hope your competitors are that slow as well!

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