Internet of Things At A Strategic Inflection Point

This post focuses on a particularly important technology market, the Internet of Things. IoT is at a strategic inflection point, due to explosive projected market growth and unresolved problems of wireless data throughput and energy-efficiency needs. The IoT market is projected to grow to 75 Billion devices by 2025. This growth is predicated on very high throughput wireless networks combined with high energy-efficiency which are not yet available.  Existing wireless technologies, including 5G, will not meet this market need. Also, the extreme diversity of IoT applications will require both small sensors that operate using minimal energy and bandwidth and virtual reality applications with very high Gigabit per second data rates and substantial power requirements.

Five years ago, I wrote a post on this blog disparaging the state of the Internet of Things/home automation market as a “Tower of Proprietary Babble.” Vendors of many different home and industrial product offerings were literally speaking different languages, making their products inoperable with other complementary products from other vendors.  The market was being constrained by its immaturity and a failure to grasp the importance of open standards. A 2017 Verizon report concluded that “an absence of industry-wide standards…represented greater than 50% of executives concerns about IoT. Today I can report that finally, the solutions and technologies are beginning to come together, albeit still slowly. 

Earlier this week, I was advised by a VC friend in Vancouver to expect another blockbuster announcement from D-Wave. And so it has happened. As if to stem any further skepticism and debate about D-Wave’s quantum computing technology, Google today announced that it has bought a D-Wave quantum computing system, in a partnership with NASA and Lockheed Martin Aerospace. This is the second major sale of a D-Wave system, and further evidence that this is not simple tire kicking by a group of ivory tower scientists.

Call it whatever you want — big data, data science, data intelligence — but be prepared to have your mind blown. Imagination and technology are on a collision course that will change the world in profound ways. Some people say big data is wallowing in the trough of disillusionment, but that’s a limited worldview. If you only look at it like an IT issue it might be easy to see big data as little more than business intelligence on steroids. If you only see data science as a means to serving better ads, it might be easy to ask yourself what all the fuss is about. If you’re like me, though, all you see are the bright lights ahead. They might be some sort of data nirvana, or they might be a privacy-destroying 18-wheeler bearing down on us. They might be both. But we’re going to find out, and we’re we’re going to find out sooner rather than later. This is because there are small pockets of technologists who are letting their imaginations lead the way. In a suddenly cliché w