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Trillions for the Internet of Things?

Let's Go Easy on Those Big Forecasts

One place you never want to visit is a "zero-billion dollar market." This is the ironic term used to describe technology trends that never take off, and I've seen a few of these over the years.

Looks like that won't be the case with the Internet of Things, which has been touted (again) this week as one that will generate trillions of dollars of business by the year 2020. Specifically, I've seen reports of an IoT worth $7.1 trillion and another figure of $8.9 trillion by that time.

The smaller of the two would represent about 10% of the entire global economy. Both numbers are patentialy ridiculous. The global food industry is this size; the global oil industry is less than half that.

It's an insult to the millions of people who've built colossal industries and markets over the last few decades to blithely equate the IoT with them.

Measuring Accurately
What will happen is that mobile devices and sensors-the things of the IoT-will be connected to systems worth that much. But build a $30,000 smart car with $100 worth of sensors, and you've got $30,000 worth of IoT? Connect a multi-billion dollar enterprise IT infrastructure to a real-time monitoring and analytics application, and you've just added those billions to the IoT

This sort of forecasting leads to skepticism and cynicism. Which is too bad, because the IoT does have transformational potential, as smart grids, cities, and nations emerge. Its dystopic potential is huge as well, and I hope our societies can curb our politicians, bureaucrats-and the businesses that will play ball with them-from tightening the privacy intrusion noose further.

In short, the IoT is no zero-billion dollar market. But let's be careful about all that talk of trillions.

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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