Conditions Watch: The Internet of Things


PrintA vital element of the Resilient Futures approach is awareness of emerging conditions. Without this capability, the pursuit of strategic opportunity and management of strategic risk becomes a ‘stab in the dark’. One such condition we are watching is the Internet of Things (IoT).

The IoT connects everyday physical objects to the Internet and to each other. With IoT the physical world is becoming one big information system. In the past 5 years there has been a 300% growth in Machine to Machine (M2M) connections. By 2018 there’s likely to be over 10 billion connected devices, and by 2020 some observers predict over 70 billion. This is exponential change at its most disruptive.

The first wave of devices were connected to improve machine utilisation and inventory flows. Now, however, connected devices are appearing in every area imaginable. From remote monitoring of patients with chronic disease through to cities with connected infrastructure, the IoT is generating a seamless integration of physical and digital worlds through networked sensors, machine learning and big data. This is an illustration of one of the drivers of disruption – connectivity. Thirty years ago we thought a loose and sporadic information connection to the world via a fax was a breakthrough. Today, we take for granted a ubiquitous and instantaneous connection between any machine, or human in the world, that can carry out light-speed, intelligent transactions.

Troves of data gathered by the IoT’s sensor network are now assisting in insightful predictive marketing that will change the way businesses advertise. Some retailers are already deploying IoT to track customer movements in their stores so that they can offer targeted promotions and suggest other products that the customer might need.

IoT is a game changer that will impact every industry and disrupt many organisations. All organisations should be considering its impact and the consequent change in operating conditions.