Sarah Rotman Epps is a Senior Analyst at Forrester. She studies the evolution of personal computing: how devices are changing, the new consumer behaviors they produce, and the industries they disrupt. Sarah also graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in visual and environmental studies. She cross-registered at MIT and wrote her thesis on tangible interfaces and alternatives to keyboard and mouse computing. She was at our symposium to talk about wearable computing and started with a provoking statement: there is NO internet of things. Yet.
There is no internet of things.
The main reason for this according to Sarah, is that “Smart” Things today are fragmented, with limited utility. She also rather speaks of systems of engagement. Within that system it’s not necessary a thing that gets smarter, it’s us.
We should think of these systems of engagement that they function like an organism. Each organ on its own isn’t that smart, the intelligence comes from the entire organism functioning together. Within this system data takes the role of blood, it’s the driver. She illustrates this with the smart parking meters in San Francisco; it’s not about a parking meter, it’s not about the people, it’s about the system. Check out Sarah’s presentation that is embedded below this post for more examples of how a system works.
There is also business value in these system of engagement. Things will help businesses:
- Increase revenue
- Reduce inefficiencies
- Improve customer experience
- Build competitive advantage
- Shift toward services
There will be InternetS! of things
Things today are fragmented and limited in utility and that’s not the only problem. The market for things will get enormous, but it will be really heterogenous. This is a serious issue from a consumers perspective; if the devices and services (API’s) can only talk to other API’s that share the same brand logo, functionally will remain limited.
So what does this all mean according to Sarah:
- Things, and the systems of engagement that activate them, will impact every industry
- Every business can seize competitive advantage by harnessing the power of Things
- But so can your (new) competitors: Expect competition from adjacent markets
She also has some advice: Think big, Think sideways, Think systems, not just Things.