The Internet of Things describes the growing number of intelligent objects (or things) that are being connected to the Internet. There has been massive interest and significant growth over the past 18 months in this area, although the variety of nomenclature creates confusion. Although there are differences of scope and focus among the Industrial Internet (GE), the Internet of Everything (Cisco) and Smarter Planet (IBM), to name but a few, all essentially describe the same concept — a growing universe of Internet-connected devices that are expected to create new efficiencies, new revenue streams and new business opportunities. Gartner defines the “Internet of Things” as the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.
2014 has already been described in some media as “The Year of the Sensor,” which captures the rising growth of this concept of connected, sensing devices across consumer, business and industrial (operational technology) sectors. Many of the future applications of this technology are not yet clear, but the number of sensors expected to be installed over the next few years and the incremental value they might produce are forecast to be substantial. Gartner’s forecast indicates the number of connected devices (excluding PCs, tablets and smartphones) will increase almost thirtyfold to more than 26 billion units by 2020 and deliver an overall global economic value-add of $1.9 trillion, of which 80% will derive from services.