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BLOG: Making sense of the Internet of Things

Zeus Kerravala | Nov. 1, 2013
Reflecting on the changes needed in light of Cisco's inaugural Internet of Things World Forum.

Another challenge I see is security and privacy. During his keynote, Cisco CEO John Chambers said IoT wouldn't be driven so much by machines talking to machines, but rather people communicating with machines. An example is the "smart vending machine" that SAP was demonstrating, where one could walk up to a vending machine, it could take your picture for log in, or perhaps you could log in using Facebook. It would have all of your candy or beverage preferences and would offer you bundles based on historical patterns. In theory, one could also bring up their community and see who else has been at the vending machine and what they purchased. This only works, however, if the person is willing to have their profiles and information sent over a network to a vending machine.

Another example was a citizen of a city wearing a "smart sensor" where the movements can be tracked and that information used to measure temperature, traffic congestion, the weather or whatever else. Again, the citizen would have to share this information willingly. Proving to a wide demographic base that this information is secure and isn't being used by big brother to spy on us is a huge hurdle to overcome. I see the benefits of IoT being so great, though, that most will likely opt in to these services rather than fear the security concerns.

For IT individuals, I believe this will create a number of new career paths, as different skills are needed to bring the IoT to life. Again, much like the Internet era created millions of IT jobs and a whole new economy, IoT will do the same. Cisco believes so strongly in this trend that the company created a whole new IoT division and is committing more than $2 billion in funding for IoT-related start-ups (if anyone has an idea, let me know). Additionally, the company plans to create a number of IoT-related certifications, which should help current Cisco engineers make the transition, if they want to.

There's no question in my mind that the IoT is coming. The only question is, are you ready for it?


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