For some, the term Internet of Things (IoT) evokes visions of unprecedented efficiency and convenience – a future populated by objects that are able to sense the environment and communicate with one another, objects that are tools for understanding complexity and responding to it quickly. Others view those qualities as the bellwethers of a dystopia. Whatever your view of the IoT, it is coming and its implications will be far-reaching.

Once the stuff of science fiction, the emergence of intelligent IoT devices that can constantly adapt to their environments based upon the massive amounts of data they and other IoT devices collect has become inevitable. Today, there may be a sense that the IoT is still in its infancy because current IoT networks are insular and proprietary, bounded by a factory’s or home’s four walls. But IoT devices are being woven into the fabric of society – energy grids, transit systems, factories, our cars and homes, and our bodies – in ways that will touch all aspects of our public and private lives. As these networks and devices connect to one another, a borderless IoT will rapidly coalesce.

Not convinced that an interconnected IoT is around the corner? Look no further than the ETAs predicted in studies by Gartner and McKinsey, among the most respected analysts in the world. By 2020, says Gartner, there will be nearly 21 billion connected devices – objects containing microprocessors, sensors, actuators and network connectivity. McKinsey Global predicts that by 2025, the IoT’s impact will be between $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year – or up to around 11 percent of the world economy. With a share of those trillions of dollars the prize, the pressure on manufacturers to tie IoT networks together and populate them with devices will be intense.

Apr-Jun 2016 issue