The Internet of Thingies

By Dr. John Bates

Dr. John Bates describes how the concept of The Internet of Things has come into being and how exactly technology has managed to get to this stage, and explores the future possibilities this could bring.


What on earth is the Internet of things/thingies?

People often come up to me in the street and say, “John, what is this Internet of Thingies? Please be a good chap and explain it to me.” Or, they might ask, “Is absolutely everything connected and how can we possibly keep an eye on it all now?” They may even suggest, “I’m not sure I want to be monitored or probed, so back off.” And so I do. Promptly.

On a more serious note, the idea of the Internet of Things has been talked about for a few years now, but more recently it has come to the fore as technology has become more capable, the cost of sensors and connectivity has dropped, or viable use-cases have started to become reality.

The Internet of Things, put simply, describes a concept where everyday objects and devices are connected to the Internet – most likely wirelessly – and communicate at some intelligent level.

In 2008, the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on earth (6.7 billion). By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 50 billion things connected. And the business behind the Internet of Things is expected to grow by more than $5 trillion over the next six years, according to market research firm, International Data Corporation (IDC)1.

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With every cellphone call, smart watch reading, Facebook update, connected home heating adjustment or smart car parking, a new piece of data is born; creating massive clouds of data that are interconnected. Some examples of Internet of Things’ applications include Smart Traffic (i.e., the monitoring of vehicle levels to optimise traffic routes and reduce accidents), Smart Waste Management (i.e., the detection of waste levels in containers to aid in the optimisation of trash collection routes), Smart home lighting and heating (i.e., monitoring of people in each room and adjusting the temperature and light accordingly), Smart Cups (i.e., the monitoring of a coffee cup to warn when it is getting too cold or ready for a refill), and so on.


How businesses could use the big data and IBO software

As volumes and velocities of data continue to increase exponentially, many firms’ existing infrastructure approaches are struggling to scale. Equally, firms have to reimagine how they do business and what they can do to raise their competitiveness by leveraging this new capability. New, agile systems are needed to handle the Internet of Things’ computational explosion of sensory inputs and reference data.

The devices and sensors themselves, however, are simply data sources. The hard part is finding the right software architectures to support a new class of high-speed, streaming, decision-centric application requirements. Software is needed to analyse vast volumes of fast Big Data, compare it against patterns in reference data, and generate smart responses rapidly.

Intelligent Business Operations (IBO) technologies, according to Gartner, provide a style of work in which real-time analytic and decision management technologies are integrated into the operational activities that run a business, a large-scale piece of machinery, a connected home, or even a car.

A new IBO architecture that combines streaming analytics and rules, combined with in-memory data grid, real-time visual analytics and low latency messaging, is able to deal with today’s computational data explosion.

So the next time I’m pulled up in the street and asked, “what’s this Internet of Thingies”… I’ll tell them it’s either the arrival of Skynet2 or we’ve just become the Jetsons3 (see their Facebook4).


About the Author

Dr. John Bates was appointed CTO for Intelligent Business Operations and Big Data, and a member of the Software AG Group Executive Board, in October 2013. In June 2014 he took over responsibility as Chief Marketing Officer. Wall Street and Technology magazine named John one of the “10 innovators of the decade”. In 2011, 2012 & 2013 Institutional Investor named John in its “Tech 50” of disruptive technologists.










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