While an exact number may be all but impossible to come by, the estimated 10 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things in 2014 isn’t really all that many.
We live in a world of more than 7 billion people, so if you look at it that way, there aren’t even 1.5 connected devices per person on earth.
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Now of course that isn’t the way it works because our world doesn’t have that kind of equality. As we know it is probably a fraction of the population comprising the vast majority of those connected devices and chances are that fraction is comprised of people named “Enterprise, Inc.”
Regardless of how the 10 billion devices that are estimated by some analysts to multiply by five over the next five years are truly distributed, fact of the matter is the Internet of Things is growing like wildfire.
As our meat thermometers, dishwashers, and wristwatches find themselves being attached to the Internet, we are rapidly becoming more and more connected. Our online lives are becoming ubiquitous with our offline lives because we have really reached saturation as our devices, aka Things, become connected to us 24/7/365. If you have any doubt, these two statistics should put that to rest:
- 91% of people have their mobile device within arms reach around the clock.
- 75% of people take and use their phone while in the restroom
In short, there are two major shifts taking place as it relates to the connected Internet. First, the connected world is becoming more pervasive by the minute and second, the internet of things is a silly and poorly thought out way of describing this connected world because things have intelligence but it is people, not things that make the Internet the most powerful connector of resources, intelligence and information on the planet.
A Case For An Internet of People
To some extent the deployment of technology will continue to get larger in scope and smaller in size as supercomputers have been scaled down to 1 RU pizza boxes and microprocessors can be inserted into your eyeglasses, but the constant evolution of the internet will be rooted in those that make the internet go, which are and always have been the people.
People Power Networks: From the heart of the datacenter to the pile of routers and modems in the closet of a family or small business, the network it is people, not things that power networks. The need to operate businesses, search for information and connect with other humans is what makes the network meaningful.
People Power Communities: In today’s socially connected world, it is people, not things that are building the worlds largest online networks like Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and others. It is comprised of the people and their desire to engage in life through the power of the Internet and the tools that their devices (things) enable them to use.
People Create What Is Next
One thing is for certain: the Internet of Things was a rev. 1 term that really should have expired in the early 2000’s as the very things that made them became interdependent on the people that used them to power the Internet revolution.
Today, the devices are merely interchangeable gizmos and gadgets that are being fed intelligence by the people that use them. Until the day comes (and I believe it probably will) where the things rather than the people fuel the Internet experience, we won’t have an Internet of things, but really an Internet of People.
In the future, it will once again be people that drive the next revolution of the internet. It will be the designers that create the next iPhones and smart devices. It will be the engineers that find new and innovative ways to make chips even smaller to the point where our things become integrated with our flesh and blood.
At some point we, the 10, 15 or 20 billion people on earth will be one with the network as we become embedded with technology and the things we once utilized to connect become antiques that are displayed in museums or reside in our drawers as mementos.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.