The Internet of Things and Humans as Sensors

By September 3, 2015 Internet of Things
The Scream (Edvard Munch, 1893)

The Internet of Things is the orchestration of multiple connected ecosystems that enable tight value chain integration and synthesis of multidisciplinary data that provide context for high-fidelity decision making.

We tend to think of the IoT in terms of monolithic network of connected “things” and the data they generate. This is a correct but very incomplete view of the potential power of a world in which everything and, indeed, everyone is potentially connected.

Consistent ability to make and persist high-fidelity business and operational decisions require that decision makers, at all levels, have access to a rich multidisciplinary context that represent the complete state of a supply chain, line operation or asset performance. In many instances this information is, indeed, generated by sensors and other devices at the edge of the IoT network, but we must recognize that in most instances this data is significant but not sufficient. Reliable decisions need to incorporate operational and business data that are not necessarily “pure” IoT, such as inventory levels, financials, market intelligence, and so forth. These typically reside in enterprise software systems.

Humans Become Sensors

In fact, the synthesis of device and non-device data can be even more meaningful when considering the ability to incorporate social media information: consumer confidence, customer sentiment, competitive information and similar human-generated data that should further inform the nature and timing of critical business decisions.

Humans become sensors.

Getting to Value

The IoT is a highly configurable web of information producers and consumers: devices, enterprise systems and social networks.

An IoT-based ecosystem seeks to synthesize heterogeneous information networks of physical objects at the edge of the network, analytics and enterprise systems at the center of the network, and human sensors outside the network. Consequently, the value realization in IoT takes place at the edge of the ecosystem farthest from the sensors and devices, outside the reach of many of the software and hardware platforms that facilitate the connection between these devices.

It is, indeed, the Internet of Everything.

Image: The Scream (Edvard Munch, 1893)