The “third wave” of computing has arrived, and it will be on full display this week at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. Thanks to a powerful blend of software, sensors and connectivity, the clean divide between physical and digital worlds is crumbling – and it promises to usher in a broad array of exciting new consumer, business and industrial products and services.

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Technology changes have redefined what it means to design, build and deliver secure products to market, but the changes do not end here. The business of technology has also changed. A new set of market dynamics has emerged, impacting adoption, customer relationships, and partnerships.

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With any new technology wave, the skills required for success in the new wave may not be the same as the prior wave. Clearly IoT places a premium on connectivity and software skills, as well as user experience, platform development and cross-system testing. Other needs are continuing to emerge and evolve as companies develop more experience with IoT – and learn from early successes and failures.

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The second fundamental change impacting third-wave product design is a new architecture. Given the ingredients of cloud technology, ubiquitous connectivity and sensing, a device-to-cloud architecture would seem right. Just capture the sensor data, upload to the cloud, and analyze. However, a device-to-cloud architecture (often called a cloud-oriented architecture) is the exception today, not the norm.

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Computers used to look like computers. Of course, we saw an evolution of form factors from large mainframes to portable mobile devices, but this was a measured evolution with user interface paradigms anchored around screens and manual input methods (e.g. keyboard, touch, voice). If we transported a DEC VT100 terminal user from 1978 to the present day, they might be surprised by the vivid color and graphics of a laptop or touch screen computer, but they would instantly understand how to interact with it.

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The Economist describes the current state of the Internet of Things (IoT) as a “quiet revolution” that is impacting both product and service firms across all sectors of the economy. Their 2013 survey found that 75% of companies were exploring uses and applications leveraging the IoT.

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