The Compelling Driver for IoT is in Services, Not the Devices

I came across a very interesting story posted at the Website in the section covering home oven reviews. The headline read “The Smart Home Dominates the Internet of Things.” The story, based on a recent report published by Appinions, a market research firm, stated that while home automation “is used interchangeably” with the Internet of Things, the fact is that the IoT is far bigger than that. “It promises to unify a vast array of industrial and commercial devices and activities, not just your phone and dishwasher.”

To be sure, home automation is leading the way right now, what with Apple, Google, Microsoft and other companies jumping on the bandwagon. What is missing in the piece is the real challenge (and opportunity) of the IoT: monetization.

The next set of leaders to emerge around the IoT will be those companies that are able to make money by monitoring, measuring and metering this brave new world of interconnected devices. This means it will go well-beyond a half-dozen or more apps on smart phones controlling all of the different products installed at home. Neither you nor I want to deal with that and that’s where I think pundits are not paying enough attention.

The people who’ll actually profit the most will figure out how to maximize monetization by building interconnected systems that will do really cool things. Aria’s Founder, Brendan O’Brien, gave me a great example of this recently, all built around the idea of putting an IoT connected soda machine in a college dormitory. Once installed, the service provider could divvy up the profits from the sale of each can of soda. But that’s just the beginning.

The service provider could provide a cut of the profits on the sale of each can of soda to the college, making sure the vending machine is not only well stocked, but running at peak efficiency. Sensors could track every operation from the coin box (which, of course, won’t use coins, but take payments via Bluetooth and other protocols from your mobile device) to the compressor that provides the cooling and the electrical power consumed.

That same software could inform the vendor when the machine runs low, and even tell the vendor which sodas are selling and which are not. The IoT soda machine is only one example. Brendan has many more.

The IoT is here today, not in the future, and already starting to disrupt and transform entire industries, such as appliances and other home devices. But that’s just the beginning. The next big wave is coming ─the wave of monetizing the IoT.

Marie Martin