Why the Internet of Things will always need a human touch

Human beings are inherently sociable. We are driven by interaction, communication and an innate sense of community. Many of our greatest innovations have been about bringing people together; whether physically, in the case of air travel and transport innovations, or remotely in the case of telephone and internet communications.

As such it is interesting to note that one of the hottest technologies on the block right now is being talked about as something that might diminish our role and the value each of us can add to society. That technology is the Internet of Things (IoT), says Brian Kracik, senior director of Product Marketing, Enterprise Communications and Cloud Services, Oracle.

IoT is being heralded in some quarters as ‘the rise of the machines’, the technology that will finally see machines take centre stage as they talk, machine- to-machine, autonomously. From self-driving cars and drone deliveries, to smart home appliances such as fridges, energy metres and even security systems; all of which can operate without human interference, we are already seeing examples.

But for all the talk of an Internet of “Things,” it is critical to remember it must still be about connecting people, to one but also to ways in which we can improve our businesses and our lives.

If IoT implementations lose sight of the need to benefit people their value will be minimal. If people do not trust or value IoT its potential will never be realised. Machine learning will ensure that IoT devices can learn and spot patterns but it will take human guidance to ensure that learning remains relevant and the right insights are looked for in the data.

There will be points where people will want or need to take action, to overrule an automated process or support it through human interaction with customers, friends, colleagues.

One area the Internet of Things is rapidly improving is customer experience. Sensors across supply chains, energy grids and in our cars are spotting problems before they happen and connecting us quickly with a solution. But while a smart car can self-diagnose a problem and book itself in for a service without any human interaction, there needs to be human oversight and it needs to be a process that can be manually overridden at any time.

Similarly the recognition and design of such potential benefits also requires human inspiration. A machine can do those things, but it cannot come up with the initial idea. As the potential of IoT increases, human inspiration will take its uses to new levels.

Retailers are already able to gain a far greater view of their business through the Internet of Things, as smart supply chains give them greater sight of inventory, availability and areas where efficiency can be achieved. But it takes human insights and ideas to turn that information into meaningfully improved customer service, or greater price competitiveness.

Brian Kracik

Human benefits, human needs and human design will be at the heart of every successful IoT implementation and much of the expertise needed to make those happen will come from the communications industry; from knowing how a network can be optimised to best support varying and growing bandwidth requirements of IoT to understanding and being able to identify and analyse the data carried across those networks, from device to device, and how it might be interpreted to help inspire new services and innovations.

IoT will not replace people, it should augment us. It should make us smarter and give us a new stage on which to unleash our creativity on a greater scale. It will reduce manual processes across almost every industry, freeing us to imagine and design its benefits and explore this new world of possibilities we are creating.

The author of this blog is Brian Kracik, senior director of Product Marketing, Enterprise Communications and Cloud Services, Oracle

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

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