The Internet of Things looks poised to explode, judging by the amazing technology seen at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but what are we to do with all the Things that come out of it?
The CES show was chockablock with some of the most imaginative gadgets on the planet. There was a dog collar that tells you if your pet is too hot or cold; a breathalyzer that checks to see if you have bad breath; a headset that measures your brainwaves; an oven that shows you recipes and lets you watch cooking demos; and a dryer that interacts with your home thermostat -- plus a raft of self- or assisted-driving cars.
What these seemingly disparate products have in common is that they are all Things which are connected to the Internet. The Boston Globe's correspondent at CES calls 2015 "The Year of the Thing." Samsung Electronics CEO and President BK Yoon said at the show that he envisions an interconnected "Internet of Things," in which everything from your bed to your refrigerator gathers and analyzes data that can improve your lives.
We know that being connected is good, but how do we know how useful it is? The answer is that we don't. Yet.
Every time we connect a Thing to the Internet, it begins to generate data. Some data will be useful only to the manufacturers of the products. They can take feedback from items such as your washing machine, to determine when it might need servicing based on how often you have been using it and on what settings.
Some data will be so intensely private that no manufacturer (or third party) will be permitted to use it. Data such as when and how often you are at home, what time you walk your dog, how many people are in the house, etc. will only be accessible by security companies, for example.
Still, the majority of data generated by Things will be discoverable and can be mined for actionable nuggets of gold - nuggets that offer new opportunities or identify possible threats to your business. In order to find these nuggets you should be connected to every relevant source of IoT data possible. Next, you will want to analyze the data to find the patterns that can lead to saving money, making lives better or avoiding a potential business meltdown.
I have heard from many innovators that they don't know what they are looking for in Big Data until they find it. It is only once they are connected and begin to analyze the data that they can see the patterns emerging. It is then they can figure out how to make their business more money - or make the world a better place.
So, it is time to get connected. As witnessed at the CES, Things can only get smarter. And the Internet of Things can only make your business smarter.