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Expert Advice for High-Growth Businesses

  • November 17, 2015

What Does The Internet of Things Mean To You?

Oracle Profit magazine’s Five Ideas recently featured the perspective of five Oracle experts on The Internet of Things (IoT) which I found to be thought-provoking because I get asked to define IoT several times per week. It's a term that means different things to different people. I confess, I sometimes use the phrase as a place to park my incomplete or immature musings on a subject, especially in conversations with people outside our industry, e.g. “the Internet of Things means doing business the way your customers want and expect you to”.

But you need a more precise definition when you’re exploring how IoT fits into your organizational transformation strategies. You have to be sure that everyone involved is singing off the same sheet of music, as in, “just what the heck are we talking about here?”

Kevin Ashton Did NOT Invent The Internet

IoT was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999. In this Smithsonian.com interview, he explains IoT by observing that, “In the twentieth century, computers were brains without senses—they only knew what we told them” whereas, today, “because of the Internet of Things, computers can sense things for themselves”.

Taking that thought a step forward, IoT employs a network of objects—aka, “things”—that are both collecting and sharing information automatically within a network. These things can be controlled remotely by humans but are also free to talk amongst themselves as defined by the network’s infrastructure and rules. The desired results are typically more knowledge from a larger pool (ocean) of information and increased operational efficiency.

Everyday Life Examples Make IoT Visceral

IoT doesn’t mean anything to you unless it’s applicable to something you can personally relate to. For example, we used to rely on our youngest son to let us know when we were running low on foodstuffs but he’s now packed his appetite off to college. We could replace his unsolicited input with a smart refrigerator that tracks what’s inside via barcode and RFID scanning. And, soon, our refrigerator things could chat with their thing buddies at Costco and deliver a case of Mexican Coke by drone to my door shortly after I’ve popped the top on my last one.

Here’s a simplified business world example from this Oracle Internet of Things Cloud Service briefing, The Internet of Things: Unlocking New Business Value, “Manufacturing companies use IoT technologies to collect data from devices that have failed or otherwise needed repairs, and then analyze this data to help provide predictive maintenance.”

Oracle Modern Best Practice Exploits IoT

If you’re still deciding what IoT means in the context of your business transformation strategy, explore the resources we post online—free and openly—for Oracle Modern Best Practice. Those resources articulate how organizations gain the ability to exploit not just IoT but other enabling technologies—cloud computing, analytics, social, mobile, and Big Data—to achieve radically superior results.


Jim Lein

Oracle Cloud GTM Strategies | Modern Best Practice | Solutions for Growing Companies

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and IoT, making it possible for your organization to achieve more, faster and with fewer resources. It is flexible, supports growth and innovation, and enables new ways to achieve consistently superior performance.

The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.


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