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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.