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The Internet will soon be dominated by an exponentially growing number of machines and sensors, rather than people. This so-called Internet of things poses interesting new challenges, but it is also opening up an exciting virtual world of new possibilities.
Kevin Ashton, in a seminal 2009 article for the RFID Journal titled, “That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing”, described the imminent rise of the devices and its impact on the world as we know it:
“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.”
The blurring of the lines between the physical world and the virtual is already radically altering business processes and practice. Digitalisation is becoming more pervasive in organisations of every kind and in every sector. The momentum is only expected to increase over the course of the rest of this decade.
A report from ABI Research found there are more than ten billion wirelessly connected devices in the global market. Those numbers are only expected to increase as the Internet of Things (IoT) expands to include more devices that can connect to the Internet. Gartner predicts the IoT base will grow to 26 billion units by 2020, not including smartphones, tablets and PCs. Including those items, other predictions have placed the number of Internet-connected devices in 2020 everywhere from 50 billion to 75 billion.