Internet of Things Needs a Reality Check on Benefits, Privacy
NEWS ANALYSIS: The IT industry throws around amazing numbers about the Internet of Things' growth and revenue potential. But there is less talk about real applications or their benefits to industry and society as a whole.LONDON—By now, we have seen all the big numbers. Market research estimates claim 50 to 75 billion—or more—devices will be connected to the Internet by the year 2025, generating $11 trillion in potential value to the global economy. But what do these numbers really mean? Ten years is a long time. Even if we consider that the iPhone is only 8 years old, along with the number of changes it has brought about, it's hard to predict with any accuracy what the so-called Internet of things will be like in a decade. To be fair, the McKinsey report that predicts its $11 trillion estimate is in a range starting at $4 trillion. That's still a large number. The cynical view is that the IoT movement is a scheme among vendors as well as consulting and research firms to drum up business. I'm not quite there yet. But pressed for use cases, executives here at the IoT World Forum repeat the same generalized visions around home automation, smart meters and sensors, and health care. There has to be more than that. And I believe there is more, but there's still a lot of work to be done before the visions come into focus.
The practical view is, yes, more and more devices will be connected to the Internet. That much is certain. What also is certain is those devices will generate a lot of data. Beyond that, nothing is certain.