Internet of Things or Internet of Subscriptions?

Internet of Things (IoT) is indeed a revolutionary concept, but there's more to it than meets the eye.

Most people actually perceive IoT as some kind of smart refrigerators or coffee machines that can show him the latest Twitter trends while having morning cup of coffee or send a SMS when your laundry is finished.

In fact, many are confusing “connected” with "smart" devices, using these terms interchangeably. Don't. They are quite different.

Even some manufacturers are somehow culprit: in a rush to follow this new trend they throw some WiFi module to an existing asset, perhaps even a cool screen and companion app et voilá! Give me your money for this brand new, always connected and very smart... toaster! Yes, now you can print your own tags at your toast! Downloaded from the Internets! Isn't that great?

Whatever. This, in turn, isn't going to save the world or make it a better place.

What really matters are these cool new ideas that are emerging, using new readers and sensors, always connected to cloud backends for immediate processing of huge amount of data, for instance. Like that unnamed smart, connected device that constantly meters insulin levels? Or maybe heartbeats, stress levels or lack of sleep. And it emits real-time alerts when something out of scope happens, both to the user and his doctor or emergency service, miles away.

IoT is more of a refrigerator that constantly measures bacteria inside compartments, auto levels and sanitize my possibly contaminated food, automatically place an order for replace out-of-stock groceries, taking in account my own agenda, while alert me about delivery time and date. And when it's time to cook, I can always consult real time recipe suggestions based on existing goods and pre-defined diet schemas using the enclosed 9" flat screen.

Now, multiply that scenario for about 3 to 6 IoT devices. But keep in mind that all of those can't work without cloud connected services. Soon that lead us to another trend: pay per use, IoT version.

All of those new connected devices need some kind of internet/cloud infrastructure to power up those awesome capabilities. And that won't come cheap -- nor manufacturers could drop it as they will go out of business real quick.

Current business model delivers finished products that won't be updated or modified ever. Now, if many of this common devices suddenly start using cloud infrastructures thus converting the model to a modern always-connected and requesting IA and Big Data constant analysis and throughput... it's easy to reason about the outcomes.

Pretty much as current triple-play existing offers from TV or ISP operators, soon it will be a common request from end users to have some kind of aggregate billing related to their use of multiple IoT devices.

I haven't read anything yet related to that theme (maybe I haven't searched enough?).

We have been there in the past -- remember when we had to pay separate, unrelated bills for our Phone, Internet and Cable services? -- and it would be a shame if we have to repeat that cycle again :\

Do we really want to pay one bill per device or a single bill for *all* IoT devices?

There is a problem: while ISP or Cable providers are in most cases a single company -- thus a single bill about muliple services is easy to achieve -- that's not the case with IoT.

That's a question the industry has to answer. In a short term, I believe.

IoT should really be called IoS - Internet of Subscriptions.


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About the author

António Rodrigues

Self-motivated professional with high level of technical skills and business experience, offering the keen ability to combine business goals & workflows with technical applications.