CES? Even if you weren’t there you heard it was a sea change, even in the short year since the last show. Whereas 2015 was the year of the action camera, drone, and futuristic VR goggle, 2016 was the year of…everything. As in IoT everything. Beacons, sensors, watches, smart and connected devices for whatever you could imagine. Even my favorite topic – cars. This year, IoT took over. And 2016 is only the beginning.
I heard people saying “It’s like the big bang,” and I had to smile. That’s exactly what my co-founder Chris called it a few months back. Back then, he spoke about the explosion of disparate IoT devices and how their value – or lack thereof – hinged on their ability to connect into platforms that enabled context and usefulness on consumers’ terms.
Devices and “things” (or “thingies,” as Geoffrey Moore forewarns) are only the gateways to the power of IoT. Much of the Internet’s value is based on the way content links and interacts with other content. So too with “things.” But the interoperability is vastly more complex and multi-layered than the “I” of “IoT” suggests.
And when industry analysts say we will hit $1.7 trillion in value by 2020, you’re looking at a lot of “things.” CES showcased only a glimmer of what’s ahead. A huge, all-new category is emerging – but its usefulness hinges on interaction and some sort of “connective tissue” between these disparate devices.
IoT’s future relies on the structure and context that connects the things.
Say “structure” and you’ll see a solid lineup of big technology companies stand up and wave. Yet this type of company has so far largely failed to succeed in edge innovation. Big companies have to optimize for short-term shareholder value: sustaining revenue from existing product lines even at the cost of staking new business claims.
We saw how that played out in 2015’s blows to traditional media companies. Walking the CES floor and seeing all the usual big name tech firms showing up in their usual legacy ways had me thinking how hard it’s going to be for them to drop in. Their models are built on their terms: ownership and control. IoT innovation will increasingly be about defying control: innovations that by definition are agile, invisible to users, and agnostic to siloed standards.
Taking in the headrush of IoT innovation at CES, I thought again about a new type of platform – one that evolves in real time with the innovation happening around it – that meets developers and consumers on their terms rather than on the requirements of legacy infrastructure.
This is the future of IoT. Open source. Agnostic. People before balance sheets. Long term strategy and focus and the mindset to let that happen.
The platforms that will organize and make useful all of those “things” need to be as forward-looking as the things themselves. Open source technology, open minded business models, all ready to expand with the vision of creators and support the needs of customers: that’s what IoT needs if it’s going to do the job its ecosystem of builders believe it can do.
The things are amassing, as CES clearly showed. Now it’s time for the platforms to emerge and bring order to the chaos. That’s the useful IoT future we’re building with AerNow.