The Internet of Things definitely makes the top five for this year’s hyped about business technology. A slew of enormous (often conflicting) growth stats get chucked around willy-nilly whilst the endless discussion around how to get to grips with the data and security go on and on and on.
Yet these “things” – and things has always struck me an odd choice of tech term – tend to be typically vague. (That is, of course, unless you’re dealing with an excitable case study around a certain type of sensor and a particular object.) But then this is perhaps not surprising. Mass connectivity between the tiniest objects at the most granular level is hard to get your head round even with IoT trending so heavily.
One point that has been reiterated time and time again over the last couple of days at Huawei’s Mobile Broadband Forum is not simply a rise in the amorphous swarm of these internet enabled things but a fundamental shift in the mindset of connectivity. Because once the concept of adding miniature sensors to everything you can think of really catches on it also requires a change in mentality for a great number of industries.
Huawei sees this a as a step away from simply connecting people-to-people or people-to-things. And a step into the biggest change of all, connecting things-to-things.
Given the nature of the event the need for high speed broadband – and how to achieve it – is discussed at great length. But there is also a lot of emphasis placed on collaboration amongst vendors and industries that wouldn’t normally bother to communicate, or even know how to. This is coupled with a focus on the need to create new business models to commercialise this fundamental change.
The old world where consumers used mobile technology to simply let their family know when they were due to get home may have vanished years ago but many industries still lag years behind the mobile revolution. Once the really slow, socially important areas like healthcare and education start to find a need to get multiple objects to chat to each other, IoT might finally take off in a noticeable way. And Mobile Broadband Forum has shown a lot of network vendors are set on putting their backs into making it happen.
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Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond