The Internet of Things (IoT) has been cursed with an unfortunate name. It is far too easy, when you first hear of it, to dismiss it as a toy, a trifle. The Internet of Things — really? The truth is IoT technology, or rather its collection of technologies, are already radically transforming the way business is done and the way we live our lives. IoT is not the future, it’s the right now. The companies that don’t get on board quickly are going to find themselves left behind at a rapid pace.

IoT is not one technology, it’s all of them

It’s helpful to forget the IoT moniker and think of it instead as a confluence of existing technologies — sensors, cheap computational power, and ubiquitous interconnection — that are rapidly coming to a head to make things that recently seemed impossible instead become the norm. We live in a world where almost every person is carrying in their pocket an Internet-connected computer that would have been the pride and joy of any IT company just 20 years ago.

Any company that is not actively thinking about the way IoT changes the fundamental rules of the marketplace is the author of its own obsolescence.

Any company that is not actively thinking about the way IoT changes the fundamental rules of the marketplace is the author of its own obsolescence. Robert Scoble of Rackspace is one of the world’s foremost thinkers and evangelists in the IoT realm, and he strongly maintains the IoT revolution is already a very present concern for businesses. “It’s never too late to innovate,” says Scoble. “But, your products are going to be judged in an increasingly crowded market space. If you are building a company, do you want to be on the conservative side and not participate in the benefits of this, or do you want to be on the more aggressive side, like Elon Musk?”

Ubiquitous data

The truth of the world today is one of functionally limitless information. Sensors of all varieties are ubiquitous and creating raw data at a rate that is simply inconceivable. The wonder of the IoT comes from harnessing that data, processing it, and serving the relevant portions of it to people in a way that frankly seems like magic. “Internet of Things to me, is that connected computers and sensors are going to be in literally everything that you interact with,” says Scoble. “Your car, your bicycle, your thermostat, your coffee mug, your dog dish, your doorbell. You’ll be walking through fields of sensors and not even know it.”

In 10 years’ time, we will undoubtedly look back at the transition happening today and recognize that we were in the midst of a paradigm shift as important as the Industrial Revolution or the advent of cheap telecommunications.

In 10 years’ time, we will undoubtedly look back at the transition happening today and recognize that we were in the midst of a paradigm shift as important as the Industrial Revolution or the advent of cheap telecommunications. This transition is simply not a time when anyone can afford to be bringing a new idea or product to market without asking themselves — is this a solution for 2016, or is it a solution for 1996?