by Matthew Moran

The Internet of Things and Paradigm Shifting Hyperbole

Jul 31, 20145 mins
Cloud ComputingInternetMobile Device Management

IoT is the hottest conversation over the past few months but does it warrant the attention?

IT professionals have been using hyperbole since the beginning of time! (queue chuckles)

But the truth is, to follow online discussions and watch the stream of articles – even here on CIO – you’d think there was a paradigm shifting technology every other month. I don’t find the changing/shifting face of technology to be mind-boggling. I find the talk of mind-boggling change to be mind-boggling.

The Internet of Things seems to be the latest term to be crowned the disrupter of all and the technology that changes everything.

Personally, I still feel that cell phones and antibiotics are the two most profound innovations in the past several hundred years. Cell phones, not for the technology necessarily, but for the broad and continuing impact on culture and communication. Antibiotics because without them about half the people you meet today you would not meet today… they, or you, would be dead.

As with cloud computing, mobility, and now IoT, the truth is most technology is largely an iterative improvement of an earlier technology.

In fact, IoT is NOT a new technology at all – but the categorization of devices… computers that is…. connected to the Internet…. a network that is. It is not a platform, nor is it a new paradigm (another overused term). Devices are still devices…. objects…. things.

Data is still data. The cloud is simply a network/platform for the delivery of information and services.

I am NOT against the categorization of concepts but to call IoT revolutionary is a bit of a stretch…. or, perhaps, my peers and I are just so revolutionary that this type of computing environment was what we’ve been talking about and working towards for the past 20+ years.

It didn’t really even surprise us…. okay…. the Internet surprised us – but not because it was such a revolutionary idea, more because of how rapidly it became adopted and pervasive.

IoT is simply a functional improvement on what we’ve always done. FYI: I’m not dismissing the challenges in data management or security this prevalence of devices presents.

Similar to people in the early 1990’s talking about the “computer age” the focus is incorrectly placed on the technology, device or platform. Back in 1992, I had an article published titled, “Welcome to The Information Age.”

In it, I defined the role of information technology as 1) Information and 2) Automation. That’s it…. those are the only two functional roles that technology plays.

That document formed the starting point of Concept Over Process: a project development methodology. It is the basis for the longest chapter in my book and the mindset and approach for the consulting that my company does.

Information & Automation

Information not for information’s sake, but for analysis and decision support: Yes, we must store all sorts of information for compliance – and we store a LOT of information in the hopes it is valuable – although I suspect we store most information because it’s required.

But, information is valuable only because it helps us plan or act quickly.

Automation in order to automate the delivery of a product or service: Automation should be one of the highest priorities of every IT professional. First, automating IT – yes, automating your mundane job away – in order to allow you to discover and attack automation opportunities with users.

IoT is Information & Automation

IoT is simply another means of extending the same.

I have a client in Arizona who I have worked with across multiple companies. As the CFO of these organizations, she is pitched technology all the time.

She jokes about how vendors feel that using special terms correlates directly to the price tag on the proposal. In our first meeting, many many years ago, she bemoaned the fact that IT companies & professionals seem intent on using fancy terms rather than talk about the problem she wants solved. She doesn’t care about “systems integration” and even “ROI” bores her. She certainly doesn’t salivate unnecessarily about “IoT”, “Mobility”, OR “the Cloud.”

But, we did solve a problem for their delivery of services, so that supervisors and key personnel receive notifications via SMS & email; and can then access the latest drawings and project information via cell, tablet, or laptop while in the field.

I didn’t charge for “integrating” a “mobility” solution across them internets…. I did charge for solving a business challenge using the platform, devices, and data that was available and necessary.

I realize more devices can now access and provide information…. that goes without saying. But it is still a network. It is still a device (computer). It is still data. Mostly the same, except different.

And I suppose that’s why I wrote this piece. Relax! The earth is not shifting off its axis. Hell has not frozen over. Pigs don’t fly!

And the Internet of Things… well, that’s just things saying and doing things…. just lots of things, saying lots of things and doing lots of things. But still just things.

Of course, if selling IoT helps you get the budget you need, tell them it is the most revolutionary, paradigm shifting technology in the last million years. Hyperbolize! Everyone’s doing it!