An IoT epiphany

Bob Emerson

I’ve been reading and writing about Moore’s law for many years: it’s been driving the IoT evolution and it continues to progress exponentially, rather than the gradual or linear way of earlier technology developments.

I knew about Metcalfe’s law, which states that the value of a network grows by the square of the number of network nodes (devices/applications/users), but until now I didn’t appreciate its importance. Shame on me, because it’s about network growth and value creation rather than technological innovation.

I also knew about crossing the chasm, which is a golden oldie, but this visual from a Nokia white paper combines the two laws. It shows how they need to intersect in the chasm in order to enable a shift from a technology-driven model to one based on value, says Bob Emmerson, freelance writer and telecoms industry observer.

This insightful infographic comes from a Nokia white paper, titled somewhat prosaically, “How big is the Internet of Things.” It is currently hosted on IoT Now’s home page

If this shift doesn’t happen, new product or technology introductions will struggle to succeed. Smart watches and connected thermostats are obvious examples.

The way that the paper used this combination of Moore’s and Metcalfe’s laws to explains the evolution of communication networks and services was part of an IoT epiphany. It also underlined the power of a creative infographic.

The other part came from another visual and a bit of algebra, which indicated that horizontal IoT platforms boost the network’s value as defined by Metcalfe’s law.

Metcalfe’s law for N applications on a horizontal IoT platform

This infographic refers to N different vertical applications (Ai) deployed on a single platform with M connected devices (Dij). When separate stovepipe platforms are employed the network’s value is N x (M + 1)2.  On a common platform the network value grows exponentially to (N x (M+1))2.

Conclusion: Vendors whose products cross the chasm and inspire early take-up and mass adoption of IoT technology will not only increase the value of the IoT, but they will also accelerate the shift toward a zero marginal cost society and a programmable world where dynamic systems adjust and optimise on their own.

The author of this blog is Bob Emmerson, freelance writer and telecoms industry observer

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow OR @jcIoTnow


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