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IoT – The Way Forward

Imagine several billions of connected devices with embedded microchips that are communicating, emitting data. With their signals crisscrossing the planet, they are ushering in a new world—the world of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Making inanimate objects ‘smart’, the development of the IoT truly represents a game changing moment. Analyzing the vast new streams of data from all these devices will provide opportunities to literally transform the world. The IoT is at a very early stage of evolution. We are just about getting started. Consumer applications of the IoT have been receiving a lot of press lately. But B2B is where we should be seeing serious action.

Consider the end-to-end ‘macro’ supply chain from manufacturing to logistics to retail to consumers. The transformative potential of the IoT is just immense—manufacturers taking out inefficiencies from their systems and uncovering new opportunities; logistics operators tracking assets, parcels, and people in real time; retailers extracting greater efficiencies and profits from their physical stores; and consumer products, light bulbs to security alarms to air conditioners and more, running Internet connections.

Taking a step back and looking at the broader picture in the aggregate supply chain, it is evident that goods are made, moved, sold, and consumed. At each of these four stages, data that is generated can be analyzed in order to raise transactional efficiency and lower costs. Costs will have only one way to go—down—in turn placing the IoT within universal reach.

Turning our attention to architecture and the IoT solutions space, there are numerous solution candidates. Selecting the right solution will become increasingly complex as the number of devices and data volumes start to grow. Implementation models too will increase in number. Things will certainly be up for grabs.

Autonomy will become increasingly important. What brings them together Integration between solution components is what brings them together today. This, however, introduces rigidity and results in IoT solutions that are low on autonomy. Stepping up innovation will raise the level of autonomy and cause solution intelligence and value to rise exponentially. So from an integration-based, relatively lower value phase, IoT solutions will gradually transition to an intelligence-driven, higher value phase—with innovation being the driver.

Which brings us to the architectural lifecycle. Architecture choices will continue to evolve as we move along the lifecycle. Predefined, preset architectures will give way to dynamic architectures. Fast forward a few years and we could expect self-assembly to be the predominant paradigm. In this new world, architecture as a concept will take a back seat. Ultimately, it could be a ‘no architecture’ world. That does not mean that the IoT solution will not have an underlying architecture. Just that the choice of architecture will be dynamically determined. Therefore, it will no longer matter to most people. Perhaps an analogy could be the NoSQL databases that are being used today to persist big data.

Paradoxically, therefore, the perfect architecture will be a system with ‘no’ architecture. System intelligence will determine the architecture at ‘run time’. At that point, IoT will have become mainstream. Something that we will no longer have to pay a lot of attention to. Like a utility, it will hum in the background and most of us will just take it for granted.