The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next level in Internet adoption - defined as "the infrastructure of the information society" giving the building blocks of an ever more connected world, with items that can be sensed and controlled remotely. Gartner estimates a possible 20.8 billion IoT objects by 2020.
In its simplest form - it is devices that already exist and that you may already have controlling your central heating at home, or the way your car connects to the Internet.
So it's going to be impacting our lives both now and in the future, and as change managers what do we need to be thinking about - and will the Internet of Things affect the way we deliver change?
Security, Skills and Standards. They're the key things that we need to be thinking about when we are looking at planning a change initiative that involves IoT. Can someone hack into it? Do we actually know what we're doing? What standards do we need to be aware of? Let's have a look at each.
We all know about the potential security risk of early adopters rushing goods to market without thinking through the security requirements - Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million vehicles when a software vulnerability with an IoT dashboard was compromised, and Samsungs smart refrigerator had a vulnerability that would allow an attacker to steal the owners Gmail credentials. Security and thorough testing is more important now than it ever has been.
IoT is quickly becoming a catalyst, pushing us and our organisations into areas where we may have little or no previous experience. For example, a manufacturer of kitchen white goods may have never created a device that needs to connect to the Internet, or have user configurable options for region or language. As a leader of change, you will need to consider if you have the skills and experience to achieve your desired project outcomes - or if you need some external help.
Standards in new technology are always an issue and the history books are littered with examples where agreement took many years. Current IoT home automation systems developed by Hive (owned by British Gas) and Nest (owned by Google) cannot share control of devices because they do not share the same communication standards. Remember VHS and Betamax? Shared standards are a must, but for the moment we have over 100 IEEE standards for IoT applications to deal with - and knowing when a device is and isn't safe to talk to!
Despite these issues, the potential benefits of an intelligently connected world with shared big data systems are still undeniable - traffic jams may become a thing of the past with vehicles talking to each other to give live updates, unobtrusive systems monitoring elderly and vulnerable people and providing alerts, asset tracking allowing machine-to-machine (M2M) conversations to make the delivery and supply chains more efficient, the list goes on.
All of this complexity is nothing new to experienced project and change managers. You will still need to assess the assumptions, constraints, risks and issues (although there may be more to consider!), you will still need the right resources (although there may be different skillsets required), and you will still need to deliver to time, cost and quality. But if you are embarking on your first IoT integrated change initiative, you might just appreciate a little help too.