The Internet of Things: 11 Experts on Business Opportunities

The term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) was coined by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton in 1999. IoT is about connecting electronic devices over the Internet, letting them talk to us and other connected devices through user controlled applications, now made popular by Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).

Experts estimate that by 2020, Internet of Everything has the potential to connect 50 billion products. If this is to be true, then there are huge opportunities for mobile app startups here.

A research has discovered that in an average week, a smartphone user picks up their phone more than 1,500 times a week.

Another latest research shows that today’s consumers are spending over 85% of their time on their smartphones using native applications.

Devices in the Internet of Things space connect to a user’s mobile phone through the audio jack, Bluetooth or simply over the Internet.

We’ve compiled opinions of 11 IoT experts about leveraging the various business opportunities in the Internet of Things space. You can use these as an inspiration while building your next product or while researching on the Internet of Things business ideas.

#1 Tony Fadell, Founder and CEO of Nest

Tony wrote a guest blog for The Wall Street Journal on the Future of the Internet, and he says,

It took the telephone more than 45 years to earn a place in the majority of American homes. The Internet did it almost three times as fast. And yet, 4.4 billion people world-wide are still offline. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the Internet of the future will be everywhere—and the more people who have it, the more important it will become. Second, in the not-too-distant future, the question won’t be what devices are connected—it will be what devices aren’t connected.

The Internet of the future will go from doing things when we ask to doing things before we ask.

In the future, more conversations will happen proactively. In many ways, the Internet of the future will feel different from the Internet we know today. Instead of seeking it out, we’ll be surrounded by it. And instead of extracting data from it, we’ll be fed a constant stream of curated, personalized information to help us solve problems and live better—and live better together.

#2 Vala Afhsar, Chief Marketing Officer, Extreme Networks

Vala wrote a blog for Huffington Post talking about the business value of Internet of Things.

All existing businesses must understand the impact of the IoT on their operations and rethink their business models. Business models are shifting from discrete product sales, to recurring revenue models. The IoT provides the opportunity, rapidly evolving into the need, to monitor and respond to customers in near realtime. Individual products no longer exist in a vacuum; interactions among devices from multiple sources and vendors must be understood and taken into account.

The battle over the concept of the home command center between Nest/Google, Wink/Quirky, Homekit/Apple, Insteon, Smartthings, and Revolv is an example of companies trying to gain control over an important segment of the IoT.

#3 Guy Kawasaki, Silicon-Valley based author, speaker and entrepreneur

Guy Kawasaki is clear on where he wants to see the industry unfold. In an interview with the Inc Magazine, he said:

I want precise location outside of Bluetooth range. In a nutshell, I want Life360 for anything I stick a tracker on. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

#4 Chris O’Connor, General Manager, Internet of Things, IBM

In one of the blogs written for IBM, Chris explains why enterprises must have IoT strategy in place.

The Internet of Things has arrived, and if you’re still waiting to decide what your IoT strategy is, you’re falling behind competitors that are already embracing the IoT. One of the most important things gained from the Internet of Things is data. There’s a lot of it, and it’s all but useless if you don’t know how to find what matters to you among your data. Looking at the data that can give real insights and then applying analytics to this data is the only way to leverage the IoT for actionable insights.

Any company wanting to transform using IoT data needs to fully embrace the cloud. And because most enterprises have already fully embraced the cloud, the next step, and the new killer application for the cloud, is the Internet of Things.

The only way to ensure that the IoT is an enabler rather than an obstacle is to engineer new products, operate existing products and gather data from connected interaction with a holistic IoT strategy in mind.

#5 David Pogue, Founder of Yahoo Tech

In an article for BizJournals, David spoke about the IoT technology which is only getting better.

We’re going to tell our grandchildren our phones were, eh, an eighth of an inch thick. You couldn’t roll them up!

UberX and AirBnB take it a step further by connecting you to everyday people for rides in the family car and overnight stays in a spare bedroom. I will never use a taxi again in one of the Uber cities.

The health tracking forks are very cool, but people argue that they’re just not accurate. … But again, we are just at the beginning of these things.

80% of everything is crap. But you have to put out the 10 of them before you’ll ever find the two gems. … The good technologies stay, the bad technologies are forgotten.

#6 William Pence, Executive VP and Chief Technology Officer, AOL

Johnson Cornell University alumni and industry experts discussed ‘Internet of Things’, and this is what William had to say about it:

You really have to be thinking about what is going to come up and completely change your business. It’s an ecosystem. Fundamentally, it’s about digitizing activity.

In an interview with Medium, William said:

To say ‘Internet of Things’ is obligatory, but in the context of advertising it’s very important. Look at the convergence of mobile and commerce — NFC and mobile commerce and embedded sensors and beacons — notifications and promotions and highly personalized commerce will be a big part of that. The time is not far off where with a mobile phone you will get deeply contextualized promotions.

#7 Tom Black, VP of IT and Enterprise Information Management, Eaton

In the same Cornell forum, Tom placed his bets on startups companies for changing the face of IoT:

Users are using the Internet to manage their lives. The complexities have come in because there are so many silos of data from a consumer point of view. No one is going to want to have 15 apps to control 15 appliances. I can guarantee that there will be startup companies that bring that together.

#8 Robert Scoble, American blogger, technical evangelist, and author

In an interview with Forbes, Robert predicted what we can expect next with the wearable technology:

We are close to a second wave where we are going to have sensors that more accurately watch our activity while watching what is going on in the web stream. That is really where developers are going to get lit up. There is a shirt company that is making sensors that go into your clothing. They will watch how you sit, run or ski and give data on that information. They are even sensors coming that will watch your blood glucose level.

#9 Brian Kelly, CTO, Golgi

Robert Scoble discussed IoT with Brian over a homemade video and Brian points out a loophole in IoT technology, and how to fix it:

When you are using the mobile device you are talking to a server that is accessible from anywhere but if you want to interact with a device that is in your home or enterprise that can be difficult to connect to. That’s not a secured location that you can just make an inbound connection just there. Those kinds of scenarios are not encountered by mobile app developers. In order to solve this you need something in the middle that both mobile and that device can connect to.

#10 Jason Silva, Filmmaker and creator of Shots of Awe

In a recent interview, Jason answers a question about ‘How are individuals going to change as a consequence of IoT’:

We will become a different species. Already our intelligence is distributed in these cybernetic feedback loops with our devices and technology. We are designers but we are also being designed by the things we design. McLuhan said it best: we build the tools and they build us back. 

In another interview given to the Inc Magazine, Jason goes on to share what enraptures him about the Internet of Things space:

The idea of contextual information always being served up until it feels like second nature. Technology surrounding us with useful information, like a kind of ‘engineered serendipity’. I’d like my smartphone to hear me when I say I’m hungry and recommend me a restaurant. I’d like to be serendipitously informed when a friend is nearby.

#11 Laurel Papworth, Social Media Educator      

Laurel contributed her views in PewResearch Center’s report about IoT. She expressed how IoT will bring the next revolution in digital technology.

Every part of our life will be quantifiable, and eternal, and we will answer to the community for our decisions. For example, skipping the gym will have your gym shoes auto tweet (equivalent) to the peer-to-peer health insurance network that will decide to degrade your premiums. There is already a machine that can read brain activity, including desire, in front of advertising by near/proximity. I have no doubt that will be placed into the Big Data databases when evaluating hand gestures, body language, and pace for presenting social objects for discussion/purchase/voting.

Are you building the next Internet of Things Startup? If you are, we’d love to hear your experiences in this space for those who’re looking at their next IoT ideas and business opportunities.