Enterprise Mobility Summit 2014: Internet of things 'needs a company like Apple to take off'

By Danny Palmer
13 Jun 2014 View Comments
Internet of Things

The Internet of Things will only really take off when developments surrounding it are led by consumers, rather than enterprise technology.

That was the consensus of the panel of IT leaders who discussed the future of enterprise mobility and device management at Computing's Enterprise Mobility Summit 2014.

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The panel concluded that the Internet of Things will be best developed by increasing connectivity of regular everyday devices, rather than as an enterprise tool.

"The Internet of Things has been here for quite a while. It's been going on for a long time. It's lots of little pockets of stuff and there are already companies actively using it in the enterprise world and that's going to continue," said Philip van Enis, group IT director for Bidwells.

He argued that the so-called "smart home" probably represents the answer to mainstream acceptance of the Internet of Things.

"But mainstream adoption, mainstream understanding of it is going to come from somebody doing things in the consumer space, and the smart home is probably going to be the answer to that."

Van Enis told the audience that in order for the Internet of Things to really take off, a company like Apple will need to get involved and release relevant products.

"That's what's going to happen, that's where we're going to hear about it, that's where the general public are going to hear about it and when you see a company like Apple deciding to release a software development kit (SDK) dedicated to that particular topic. That's the first indicator that it's going mainstream," he said.

"Because then, people are aware and they'll all be buying sensors and control devices for their homes."

Joe Blake, vice president of sales, EMEA, at mobile application platform software supplier FeedHenry, argued that today's kids – who are already used to using internet-connected devices – will drive the Internet of Things boom once they're consumers.

"I don't know how many of you out there have kids under the age of five, but it's been observed that kids will walk up to a flat-screen television and try to swipe it," he said.

"One of my children has walked up to the television and started talking to it in order change the channel after experiencing YouTube and Siri," Blake continued. "So I think when those guys have money, when they have spending power in 10 years' time, there's the trick."

However, according to David Presland, enterprise architect for workforce mobility, global IT strategic development and performance, at oil and gas company BG Group, this will only happen if the enterprise takes the initiative and develops the Internet of Things "idea" for the good of all and not just their own corporate interests.

"It's businesses actually making a decision to take a bit of their budget and do something with it to lead the charge and set an industry example.

"But when an industry does it, it becomes an industry solution and not a commercially available solution. It becomes a business benefit and you don't want to share that because you want to keep it for yourself," he said, adding that consumerisation of the idea will be the "tipping point".

"So when a couple of companies actually decide to go down the path of building some solutions that they can sell on the market that will be the tipping point," said Presland.

Simon Goodman, head of information systems strategy for Network Rail, argued that this is already happening to some extent in the automotive industry. He felt that the trend will only get larger in the coming years.

"One area we're, perhaps, already seeing it is in the car industry," he said. "There are web sensors which connect back to the insurance company to let them know how you drive, because they're going to offer you, as a consumer, a lower premium.

"And there's benefits to the manufacturer with that technology, because if they can tell something's going wrong, they can contact you and tell you that you need the parts. So I can see it emerging in the car industry in the next couple of years," Goodman added.

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