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Internet of Things not only hardware

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The Internet of Things (IoT) promotes a globally connected device network. But for this to work, it requires a solid foundation built on software, says MALCOLM RABSON, managing director of Dariel.

For the uninitiated, TechTarget defines IoT as a scenario in which objects, animals, or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. In essence, this means that virtually anything from your fridge to your running shoes will be networkable. And judging by the amount of appliances, wearable technologies, and mobile apps that give us greater control of all aspects of our lives, this has already started happening.

There are still cynics who believe that this is just another trend that will not last. Yet, for all the science fiction (and fantasy) aspects of IoT and those sceptical about the benefits, it does offer businesses a compelling value proposition to seriously consider it.

By 2020, the International Data Corporation (IDC) says that the IoT market will be worth more than $7-trillion. This is quite a significant jump from the current $1.9-trillion. Gartner backs this up by reporting that the global IoT market will see 26 billion units installed in 2020 representing an almost 30-fold increase from the 0.9 billion of 2009.

Clearly, there is serious business to be done in the segment. But how can companies capitalise on this when they are still finding it difficult to understand the concept? The answer, as with many things in the IT world, revolves around software. Software affects all types of businesses across industries, countries, and socio-economic conditions. It has become the electricity that runs through everything we do in the connected world.

By its very nature, the fact that any possible device (or thing) could be connected means that software needs to be approached differently to benefit users across business and consumer environments.

However, the dizzying number of opportunities and possibilities mean that decision-makers and developers alike are struggling to find an effective starting point. But rather than thinking about IoT as an empty slate, the focus should instead be on the areas that will have the most impact on the business.

Such an IoT approach also needs to be mindful how software should facilitate the sharing of information between the connected device and the organisation. After all, it is one thing to empower end-users with tools that connect but another to extract meaningful business data from their usage and changing requirements.

It is the software that will serve as the link and that will aid the decision-maker to build competitive advantage into the business. By embracing the IoT with this foundation, the organisation will be able to drive momentum and capitalise on bridging the divide between hardware connectedness and software analysis.

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