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April 9, 2014

A ‘Happy 4th World Internet of Things Day’ Card from INEX ADVISORS

April 9th is the 4th Annual World IoT Day – a concept dreamed up, I think, by our friend at Internet of Things Council in Europe.

The point of World (or International, depending on where you read) IoT Day, is to encourage people all over the world to take a moment to gather and connect on IoT.

Since today is World IoT Day, and I am stumped for the moment, for pointed blog topics that are not encumbered by one client or portfolio company commitment or another, I thought I might share a few perspectives that we are excited about and working on at INEX.

1. What is a Thing?

At INEX, we like to think of IoT as the instrumentation of the physical world. And the physical world is MUCH broader than manufactured physical objects. I was at an event recently with my new friend, IDG Enterprise Chief Content Officer John Gallant. We had a short exchange about Internet of Things graphical representations. We noticed: most of the depictions of IoT highlight manufactured assets.

There is a big, wide world of physical assets, resources, operating or natural environments, that may be worth instrumenting. Perhaps a lot more than a tweeting toaster.

Microsoft has an emerging view on this. And while there is much to debate, and a few things to disagree with in their perspective, the idea of ‘latent data’ has a number of valuable positions to consider within the context of defining ‘a thing’ worth instrumenting.

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Just try to make sure that you see each thing for what it is, on its own, and in its systems, before you start harvesting and marketing its latent data.

2. Sampling versus Reporting

We often hear about – legitimately – the power challenge in IoT solutions.

And it is usually within the context of a solution whose architecture presupposes dumb sensors as edge nodes, streaming data ‘requirements,’ and over-dependence on clouds.

When we dig a little deeper, we often find that the chief architect has consciously or subconsciously channeled Donald Rumsfeld.

Said another way, the people in operations in organizations considering the deployment of IoT solutions, tend to have at least a few very good ideas about what is wrong with their current operation; how they could improve or even transform performance; what information they have, or might need, in order to improve the operation; and in some cases, a pretty good idea about the cost, timing and potential for unintended consequences upstream or downstream from their work.

They do not need to stream any and all data sets into clouds to wait for ‘emergence’ to advise them. Now I am not knocking the value of emergence, or serendipity or chaos theories. I am just saying, a lot of people do not need to deploy an expansive array of sensors, streaming data.

What they need are sensors with high sampling rates, and spare reporting rates. If we model a system to keep a storage container at 45’ and 75% humidity, sample temperature and humidity as often as required, but, do not report every reading. Especially if they are re-asserting 45’ and 75%.

We are a hell of a lot smarter than that. Our systems are too …

Think of all the batteries we will save.

3. ‘AND’ People.

One of the great joys of our work is learning from clients and portfolio company leaders. I mean this. Earnestly. Some of them are technologist, others are business people and a third category are subject matter experts, or domain experts – hydrologists, geologists, marine biologists, industrial designers.

Invariably, the most interesting and awe-inspiring are those who build bridges between the analog/ physical/ carbon world and the digital/ virtual/ silicon world. They understand deeply the needs of a community, an environment, a stressed resource pool, and the potential to improve or enhance the sustainability of an asset class, expand its potential for impact, and create opportunity for people to engage in meaningful work.

Profitably.

whatif

We engage as many of them as we can find. INEX invests in as many of them as we can afford.

You may read often the need to ensure that we do not build an ‘Internet of Silos,’ and then one author or another goes into one domain of technical wonder, or arcana, or another. APIs. Protocols. Stacks.

If we really want to make sure that we do not create the Internet of Silos, or inequality, or hyper-concentrated capital, we should start looking for and working with the right people.

Happy World IoT Day. Find or make a friend and talk about you might change the world through an intelligent, intentional instrumentation.

And then give us a call. We’ll help.

April 9, 2014