Connected devices: En-‘lightening’ at Microsoft Ignite

By Switch Automation • December 1, 2015

No child in poverty by the year 1990. 1 billion trees planted by the year 2000. 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020.

Big, bold statements. The first two never came to fruition. So what about 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020? Is this statement likely to be truth or hype?

Our CEO was recently invited to give a quick, bold presentation at Microsoft Ignite AU in the Gold Coast. 5 minutes of time to ‘enlighten’ a brilliant group of tech-minded folks. No pressure, right?

For those of you who weren’t able to join, here’s how it went down:

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to create massive opportunities for lots of companies and organizations. IoT has the potential to let us live longer and healthier; to manage our environment better; to eliminate mistakes and inefficiencies. Connected devices could literally create entire economies.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

So let’s look at an example of who is already doing IOT successfully. Formula 1 cars have been pulling data from cars since the early 90’s. The McLaren cars send 300 data points at 1/1000th of a second and combined with weather, inform the pit crew within seconds to change strategy. That’s precision IoT achieving spectacular results, if we’ve ever seen it.

McLaren Formula 1 Precision IOT
Image courtesy of Patrick Gosling

Equally as impressive are the failures: In our ‘bad-ass CEO’s’ humble opinion, the ‘Smart Grid’ achieved nothing. It never delivered on any of its bold promises. Energy data is boring and energy prices are not high enough to register on the consumer’s radar. And who thought connecting appliances to the internet so that utilities companies could manage when and how you use your dishwasher was a good idea? Smart Grids don’t exist because we’ve yet to find a group of people willing to concede control of their home to their local utility.

Smart City failure
Image courtesy of 7 Themes

Meanwhile consumers are adopting IOT in droves. Think connected devices like: smart phones, wearables, smart TVs. So the big question: why is it that the consumer embraces IOT adoption en masse while other sectors lag behind?

Because the enterprise sector still needs three key elements to exist in perfect concerto to create massive uptake in a new technology.

  • Infrastructure
  • Application layer
  • The customer

Large tech companies are ensuring that IoT infrastructure is in place. Companies like Switch are building application layers, in our case for Smart Buildings. But the third cornerstone, the customer, is also key. The customer will drive a mammoth shift in doing business in traditional industries. The incumbents in our industry [traditional management system suppliers, in our case] won’t drive the change. They simply aren’t motivated to change business models or upset the status quo. Instead, they tend to induce roadblocks such as network security and data privacy.

The customers, however, are not fooled by this strategy. They have compelling economic reasons to investigate and  adopt new technologies. And when the early adopters’ case studies hit the market, showcasing transformative new ways of managing large business and realizing billions in savings across their operations, THEN we will see mass adoption. That’s when we’ll see 50 billion connected devices, and that will be the tip of the iceberg.

It just takes a perfect storm. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. The storm is coming. So grab an umbrella and give us a ring.

Microsoft Ignite AU, thanks for the chance to ‘enlighten.’ What’s a perfect storm without lightning, anyway?


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