Does the Internet of things need a killer app?

Today was the opening of Cisco System’s Internet of Things conference in Barcelona, Spain and in the morning sessions there was constant question of what will be the killer app for this range of technologies.

A killer app is the application that drives adoption of a new technology – for the Personal Computer, it was spreadsheet programs that made systems attractive to company accountants and from there the PC made its way into the workplace.

Right now, you’d have to say parking systems are the great hope for the industry and this makes sense in that it’s an easy to explain to the general public and it helps solve an ongoing problem for local governments.

But does the Internet of Everything really need a killer app?

The Internet of everything is the coming together of various different technologies — cheap processors, pervasive internet, cloud computing and big data are all reasons why the concept has taken off.

In fact, many of the applications aren’t new, telemetry systems have been around since the early days of networks and even parking technologies like number plate recognition and space meters have become common over the last decade.

Across industries like logistics, mining and agriculture the Internet of Things or Machine to Machine (M2M) communications has been steadily growing with each new generation of connected equipment.

The difference with the next wave of technology is that devices are smarter and able to talk to each other which is where companies like Cisco see the opportunity of tapping into what they believe will be a 14 trillion dollar market by the end of the decade.

What concerns many in the industry is the risk of the technologies become proprietary islands where each major company has its own standards that don’t talk to the others.

The risk of vendor lock in is probably greater than the search for a killer app, indeed there’s no particular reason why anyone should be waiting for a compelling application to come along.

Instead of waiting for a killer app it’s probably better for industries to find their own uses for these technologies and steadily implement them.

While Cisco are almost certainly right about the impact of the Internet of Everything, it’s one of these pervasive technologies that changes everything in ways that aren’t immediately apparent like the motor car or the internet itself.

About the author

Paul Wallbank is the founding editor of Networked Globe and has nearly twenty years experience of working in and reporting on computers, the internet and the future of our connected society.