IoT: A powerful concept evolves into an enabling technology

THE INTERNET OF THINGS

 A POWERFUL CONCEPT EVOLVES INTO AN ENABLING TECHNOLOGY

IoT is one of many game changing concepts that will become the foundation for applications specifically created to bring enormous benefit to the Commercial Real Estate Industry

Touting the potential benefits of a new technology is easy because it is a matter of inconsequential speculation. In the case of IoT however, I believe it is not pure speculation. After having seen many high tech innovations come and go I contend that if only a fraction of those IoT potential benefits prove to be valid, the value of IoT will still be extraordinary. I’ve made the case in recent weeks that to be competitive CRE professionals must recognize the importance of IoT and have a good working knowledge of how to use it to their advantage. Once again, “Those three letters are quickly becoming an established part of the commercial real estate lexicon and practice”. That statement becomes truer as we move forward.

Strictly speaking IoT is a concept; it is not a specific hardware widget, or a software program. It is however a concept that is evolving into the bedrock upon which many operational applications will be built.

I’ve been in the high tech industry for many years. Outside of Moore’s law, I’ve found two constructs that have proven extraordinarily consistent over time. They are the “technology life cycle” and the concept of “enabling technologies’ that evolve into application platforms.

Technology Life Cycle

All technologies, and products created from them, have a pre-defined life cycle, not surprisingly; beginning, middle and end to their useful lives. They serve different market segments in each phase; early adopter, early majority, mainstream and late majority. This cycle is clearly recognizable and immutable. Where a product is in its ‘life cycle’ will dictate sales, marketing and product management decisions. It will set time tables for promotion, for product improvements, for end of life preparations and for the launching of upgrade or replacement products.

The other consistent phenomenon is that of ‘enabling technologies’. At first they are new and different, the hot topic, the buzz of the day, the focus of attention at trade shows etc. They usually have a very important, but limited set of uses that are helpful, but perhaps don’t completely solve specific problems. Data Warehousing, first introduced as a concept in the late 80’s, is a perfect example. Once computing horsepower and memory technology became capable of storing and manipulating large amounts of data quickly and reasonably inexpensively, corporations and  governments quickly took advantage and created massive data warehouses based on then established data warehousing concepts.

Creating a data warehouse was practical and helpful, but as it turns out, not the end game. It was a hot topic for years. In short order, there were many data warehouses full of useful information. Then the warehouse began to be relegated to a secondary position as an underlying or ‘enabling technology’. As it turns out, those well-organized large pools of useful data ushered in many new applications like Data Mining, Business Intelligence, Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Resource Management, Supply Chain Management and many others. These applications became the hot topic, overshadowing Data Warehousing, which had become the roots of many software application trees. The door was then open for corporations like Business Objects, Oracle, Sales Force.com using their newly created analytic algorithms to turn the data into actionable content. Those companies grew quickly once the underlying data warehouse made all sorts of data readily available and ease to extract.

IoT is similar to Data Warehousing in that it is new and different, the hot topic, the buzz of the day, the focus of attention at trade shows etc. It is important, in that it provides a blueprint for networks that will dramatically advance the capability to better manage commercial structures, and even cities, in an infinite number of ways. It will allow this to happen although it may not completely solve a specific problem in and of itself.  IoT is in the formative stages of being recognized as an enabling technology. There is a great number of IoT related hardware and software companies now creating specific applications that collectively transform the concept of IoT into a expansive systems that will help construct profitable venues, attract and retain tenants, better manage existing structures and increase their value over time.

So what image should come to mind when you think about IoT? First, you should imagine an image of a connect-the-dots coloring book where the coloring book is a sophisticated electronic IoT network. The network is connecting wired or wireless data from almost any electro/mechanical or computer based device or system that makes up a commercial building’s infrastructure. Second, see each connecting point as a device embedded with a data gathering sensor or control mechanism. Third, all the individual images/devices are connected to a central Cloud Based server. Lastly, imagine yourself in the back office of a Multi-family high rise at the receiving end of a dash board screen that is reporting on the KPI’s that you have chosen as important metrics to efficiently manage the building. You are looking at real-time data-driven, fact-based digital input that is voluminous, detailed and accurate. With relative ease, you then compare, contrast, analyze, basically slice and dice the results in as many ways as you wish. The final result is an ease to understand, well laid-out report.

 

That report will vault any building manager light years ahead of others who do not have IoT enabled buildings.

This is the essence of a powerful concept evolved into an enabling technology.

IoT is one of many game changing concepts that will become the foundation for applications specifically created to bring enormous benefit to the Commercial Real Estate Industry

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As a contributor to Connected Real Estate magazine online and print I will be closely following IoT and CBRS writing about it on a regular basis.   If you have an immediate need for additional information on these subjects please contact Bob Butchko at bobb@fifthgenmedia.com or 973.244.5868 x104 (O), 302.515.4811 (M)

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