I guess that I have been in this technology industry for too long. Like many of my colleagues, I love new technology and I thrive on change and emerging trends. In fact, the technology market thrives on change and the latest innovation that promises to turn an also ran company into a market disruptor.
The reality is that many of these shiny new toys or technology innovations fail – sometimes almost unnoticed and sometimes with a bang. In my business book, Smart or Lucky? How Technology Leaders Turn Chance into Success, I devote an entire chapter on what I call “Silver Bullets” – those technologies that gain great hype and then succumb to the realities of the complexities of the real world. But there is an irony here. Many of these failed technologies become the foundation for a new generation of products and innovations that help change the world. Historically, I can name dozens of these failed technology markets including object oriented software development, to client/server to Service Oriented Architectures. None of these areas remained at the top of the hype cycle. We don’t talk about these areas anymore. But the reality is that thousands of companies spent huge sums of money investing in these technology initiatives in the hopes of gaining a competitive advantage. Most of these projects failed to deliver. However, the risk takers who spent million of dollars have moved technology further than anyone would have thought possible. Without these investment and experimentation we would not have made way for next generation software development or containers, or microservices – to name but a few.
All the failed silver bullets and failed projects based on these technology innovations have a commonality: they are represent transitions to incremental change. Therefore, I believe that we need hype cycles in order required in order for the industry to move forward.
Making the case for IoT evolution.
This same scenario applies to the Internet of Things but with a caveat: the underlying technologies are built leveraging existing elements that have been around for decades. Sensors have been an integral part of machines for decades. We have had the ability to stream data in near real time for quite a while. RFID technologies have existed for decades. Statistical analytic engines such as time series analysis, neural networks, and advanced algorithms have been around for an equally long time. What was always holding these technologies back from commercialization was cost of the technology. Cloud and advanced hardware technologies is turning this silver bullet into a viable market.
But as with any emerging market, the IoT market will not be build on new technologies. These implementations will require mature middleware, security, analytics, and business process. The failures of the past where companies have tried to leverage rich data from machines and systems has paved the path for what I expect will be a massive market.