Three industrial revolutions that have brought epic changes to the world of business are steam engines, mass production, and internet technology. Today, we are in the midst of what is often called the fourth industrial revolution – the convergence of physical things with the world of the internet: The Internet of Things (IoT). Let us give you three figures that show why the IoT creates challenges both long-term and immediate.
First, consider the number of IP-enabled devices such as cars, heating systems or production machines. The research database of the analyst firm Machina Research is expected to deliver around 14 billion of those connected things by 2022. Second, the ITU predicts that by 2015, 75 percent of the world’s population will have internet access. And third, the omnipresent mobile revolution: according to the mobile forecast from Cisco's Visual Networking Index , more than 3 billion smartphones and tablets will be in use globally by 2017.
Managers need to envision the valuable new opportunities that become possible when the physical world is merged with the virtual world and where potentially every physical object can be both intelligent and networked. And, starting now, they must create the organizations and IoT-based business models that can turn these ideas into reality.
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