Internet of Things (#IoT) Industry Experts Share Perspectives – Part 1: Defining IoT

In this blog post, Randy Littleson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Flexera speaks with Rami Ahola – Global Electronics Center of Competence at IBM and Vikram Koka – Vice President Intelligent Devices and IoT at Flexera and asks them to share IoT definitions and examples.

Randy: I think one of the biggest challenges with the Internet of Things is defining it. It’s a very nebulous and a vague term to a lot of people so why don’t we get started with how you define the Internet of Things?

Rami: The precise definition would depend on what industry are we talking about but in general terms, it’s objects that are capable of interacting with other objects.  What we’re seeing is a lot of things instrumented with sensors, able to provide information about themselves, their condition, their environment, and feed that information to the outside world. 


Vikram: As Rami said it’s been an evolving definition and I’d say a few years ago we’d start it with Intelligent Devices, and then Connected Devices. After that we started using the term Machine to Machine (M2M), to mean devices connecting to other devices. A couple years ago that started morphing, to mean any device talking to any intelligent system, so here’s the sensor, which is a device which is talking to an intelligent system which  then feed information so  by definition it is connected. There is a platform behind this connected system which can use the information for either making decisions or to be more intelligent. Finally there are applications built on top the system  to drive business value. The definition has changed over the last few years. It’s grown and now it is inclusive across a wide variety of both verticals and domains. 

Randy: Let’s take that one step further. You both mentioned that the definition in part is tied to which vertical, so the follow up is what industries and verticals are you seeing the earliest tractions and maybe some examples of some of that traction since it does vary by vertical, where are you seeing the traction today? 

Vikram: The general population tends to see and read a lot about the consumer Internet of Things (CIoT). From a high level view there’s a consumer IoT and then there’s a business IoT. There is a lot of traction happening in the consumer IoT around for example wearables, like FitBit and other companies which feed information from a sensor, attached to a person or to your mobile phone. The device typically has an intelligent application, which collects information and can track fitness over time. So In CIoT includes wearables, devices to support a connected homes (such as the Nest), and then emerging further are automotive examples. The industrial IoT (IIoT), the business Internet of Things I think has evolved a lot and has been under the radar for a lot of people and specifically there you can think about the industrial internet. There is  a lot of work happening in this particular area. Under the IIoT there’s also is the manufacturing internet, with the specific initiatives, for example in EMEA around the industry 4.0. You also see a lot of activities happening in healthcare as well. So those are some of the key verticals where I see a lot of activity. There is a split between the CIoT and the business or industrial IoT with a common underlined communications infrastructure for both. The communications infrastructure is powered by people in the telecommunication space and is the basis for both verticals. 

Rami: I like how Vikram split it up between consumer and industrial. There’s been a lot of hype around consumer and it is gaining traction, but it’s nowhere near as mature as some solutions on the industrial side of the house. Where we see actual mature applications are really asset intensive industries. Examples are aerospace, healthcare, or medical devices. Stuff like CAT scan devices, industrial equipment like mining equipment and in buildings. But specifically in the industrial space anything where the cost of down time is high. That’s where we see these devices being equipped with all sorts of sensors and having the ability to monitor themselves for a condition, location, where is the device, what shape is it in, when does it need to get service in order avoid unplanned down time and that kind of thing. 


Share your perspectives—How do you define the Internet of Things? What industries/verticals do you see the most traction in? What IoT initiatives are you working on?

Up Next: Part 2: Monetizing the Internet of Things (#IoT)

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