How The Internet Of Things Will Transform Everything - According To IT Experts

A new survey of IT decision makers by SAP and Harris Interactive reithat the rise of machine to machine (M2M) communications - more commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" - is on the cusp of transforming our homes, our cities and how business is conducted.

How, you ask?

  • By leveraging Big Data and real-time analytics to improve parking and traffic flow, which could reduce pollution and traffic accidents as well.
  • By managing all the gadgets in our homes, from lights, computers and smartphones down to our coffeemaker and garage door. Wake up, the coffee is brewing, the house is heated, the car already knows the best route to work and the news we need is showing on the screen of our choice - prioritized, obviously.
  • Connected cars, roads and smartphones will guide us to the nearest open parking spot - and bill us automatically.

This Internet of Things will also let businesses increase "efficiency, productivity and collaboration," as it delivers real-time data and insight when and where it's most needed, including to a widely dispersed, highly mobile workforce.

Buried within the survey results are such nuggets as:

  • Mobile devices will outnumber humans this year. 
  • 90% of consumer-connected devices will have access to some personal cloud in 2013.
  • 24 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020.
  • 66% of IT professionals surveyed believe business and consumer technology will converge within 3-5 years - great news for consumer tech leaders like Apple, Samsung and Google.
  • At least 4 billion terabytes of data will be generated this year alone.
  • The trend toward BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has clear and present business repercussions: 75% of the surveyed IT professionals believe that employees' personal use of mobile devices impacts how the business itself uses the cloud. 
  • 65% think the Internet of Things' biggest challent in managing and analyzing the resulting real-time data.

(Note: SAP and Harris have also prepared an infographic of the survey results, visible here.)

Global Phenomenon

The business-funded survey of 751 IT "decision makers" was generally upbeat about the Internet of Things. A statement released with the survey suggested connecting data from CRM systems, social media and billions of devices, all in real time, will result in "the ultimate social media collaboration of man and machine." 

That said, it is somewhat surprising that IT decision makers in developing countries - China, India and Brazil - appear more eager eager for the M2M revolution. Consider the response percentages to specific statements regarding the Internet of Things:

  • Gives companies greater insight into their business: China (96%), India (88%), Brazil (86%), Germany (79%), U.S. (74%) and UK (61%)
  • Enables businesses to respond to real world events: China (92%), India (86%), Brazil (82 %), Germany (82%), U.S. (78%) and UK (73%)
  • Increases business efficiency:  Brazil (54%), UK (53%) and U..S (49%)
  • Increases productivity for employees:  China (69 percent) - significantly higher than any other countries surveyed

Nearly all decision makers (89%) across all surveyed countries agreed, however, that widespread availability of LTE/4G infrastructure was vital for the success of the Internet of Things. This will likely not come cheap, however. A recent statement by Cambridge Wireless noted that today's mobile networks are "lacking ubiquitous coverage" and suggested that "service tariffs are too high to support" the full potential of the Internet of Things.

(See also Futurist's Cheat Sheet: Internet of Things)

The hope of the Internet of Things is that greater connectivity, vastly more data, improved data analysis - and response - will make our lives better in ways we can scarcely predict, at home, on the road, at work; everywhere.

Note: Per SAP, "the survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of SAP among 751 IT decision makers in Brazil (n=126), China (n=125), Germany (n=125), India (n=125), the United Kingdom (n=125) and the United States (n=125) between January 15 and February 1, 2013."