The Internet of Things and Networks of Everything

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a hot topic for several months now, and there are new stories about it in the business and technology press on a daily basis. While it’s easy to view these as hype at worst and vision at best, there is no denying that purveyors of hardware, software and services are dedicating and creating the resources they will use to capitalize on the IoT. Last week alone, there were three announcements that show just how quickly the IoT market is progressing and how big of a business opportunity it is.
On Monday, September 14th, IBM formally launched a distinct IoT business unit and named former Thomas Cook Group CEO Harriet Green as its leader. The new IoT unit is the first significant step by IBM toward delivering on the $3 billion commitment it made to IoT in March. IBM signaled in Monday’s press release that the unit will “soon” number about 2,000 consultants, researchers and developers, who will use IBM’s assets to help customers get up and running on the IoT. Those assets will likely include the Bluemix platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Watson and other analytics software, as well as the MQTT messaging protocol standard for machine-to-machine communication that IBM submitted to OASIS in 2013.
The next day, Salesforce.com used its annual Dreamforce conference as the grand stage on which to unveil its IoT Cloud. This offering has at its core a new “massively scalable”, real-time event processing engine named ‘Thunder’ (to complement Salesforce’s ‘Lightening’ UI framework). IoT Cloud connects IoT resources and Thunder rules-based workflow to route data between them, triggering pre-defined actions. For example, when an individual enters a retail store, a beacon can offer them discounts based on qualification criterion such as loyalty program status and in-store inventory levels. Scenarios such as this will be possible because of IoT Cloud’s integration with the Salesforce Sales, Marketing and Analytics Clouds. IoT Cloud is currently in pilot and is expected to be generally available sometime in the second half of 2016.
While these two announcements are important milestones in the respective organizations ability to help customers connect to and use the IoT, they do not enable them to do so immediately and risk being labeled as more IoT hype. The sheer magnitude of resources assembled for each of these vendors initiatives signals that they believe that the IoT will be both real and profitable in the not-so-distant future.
The final piece of related news from last week underscores that smaller, pure-play vendors are delivering tools that help their customers get on the IoT now. Build.io announced that Flow, its integration PaaS that had been beta released in March, is now generally available. Flow features a drag-and-drop interface that is used to connect IoT elements ─ sensors and other intelligent devices, backend systems, mobile applications and other software ─ into an integrated system. Connections are made at the API level. Like Salesforce’s Thunder, Flow uses rules-based event processing to trigger actions from IoT data. In essence, Build.io is delivering today a critical part of what Salesforce intends to make generally available later this year.

Current State of the Internet of Things and Networks of Everything

These announcements, taken together, mean that the IoT is poised for takeoff. The first sets of user-friendly tools that organizations need to connect IoT nodes, transmit their data and use it to drive business processes are available now, in some cases, or will be coming to market within a year. We are on the cusp of a rapid acceleration in the growth of the market for software underpinning the IoT, as well as the network itself.
This latest batch of IoT announcements from software vendors underscores another thing: the IoT will initially be built separately from enterprise social networks (ESNs). Many organizations, particularly large enterprises, have experimented with ESNs and a few have managed to build ones that are operating at scale and creating value. Those businesses will be turning their attention to IoT development now, if they haven’t already. They will pilot, then scale, their efforts there, just as they did with ESNs.
Eventually, organizations will realize that it is more efficient and effective to build Networks of Everything (NoE), in which humans and machines communicate and collaborate with one another using not only the Internet, but also cellular, Bluetooth, NFC, RFID and other types of networks. This construct is just beginning to enter reality, and it will take a few years before NoE get the market attention that ESNs did five years ago and the IoT is now.
At some future point, when NoE have become a fixture of networked business, we will look back at this month (Sept. 2015) and declare that it was a watershed moment in the development of the IoT. We’ll also laugh at how obvious it seems, in hindsight, that we should have just built NoE in the first place.

Hands on: Mac and iOS task management with Things 2

Things was my task management tool of choice in the pre-cloud era. When Cultured Code announced recently that, finally, after four years that cloud syncing was finally here, I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to try it out. Here’s my take on the new software.

Nancy’s Plans for 2010: A Year of Projects

A while back I wrote that I don’t believe in resolutions. But I did suggest that the new year was a good time to evaluate your goals, especially business ones. Events the past few months have made it an especially good idea for me to do that this year, so I decided I’d join other members of the WebWorkerDaily staff in sharing them.

Gear

I accumulated a lot of new gear in 2009, but that doesn’t stop me from still having some gear goals for 2010. One of those goals I already fulfilled by purchasing a Canon 270ex flash for my Canon XS last week. I can now avoid the recurring expense of renting a 430ex ii when I attend trade shows, and the 270 will do the job with less weight to carry.

Like Simon, I’m looking forward to an upgrade to my iPhone 3G (s aapl) when I’m eligible this summer, right after the traditional new model rollout time. I’ve also been shopping for EVDO card options after our Christmas week Internet outage (and another one caused by our cold snap this week in Florida) made me realize I needed a better Internet access back-up plan. So far, I’m leaning toward a MiFi from Verizon (s vz). Read More about Nancy’s Plans for 2010: A Year of Projects

Rant: Rumors of the Death of Web Series Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Break A Leg creator Yuri Baranovsky posted a provoking piece on his blog on Wednesday called Let’s Save the Web Series. It’s a thoughtful look at the current state of web content, one that echoes some recent thoughts from our own Chris Albrecht, but it’s driven by the following sentiment: “It seems to me that we’ve finally dropped the act and now just think that the whole damn genre is failing.”
To be blunt, it sounds like Baranovsky doesn’t get out much. If he did, he’d be in touch with the new generation of web series creators, who are playing with their cameras, trying new things and making new deals. There is so much happening here that, frankly, we can’t cover it all. But heaven help us, we’re trying. Because we are watching the new stuff. And each new great show is another reason not to give up.
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Cultured Code Announces a Roadmap-That’s-Not-a-Roadmap

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I’m a huge fan of Cultured Code’s Things (both on the desktop and iPhone). A few weeks ago, I sent them what I thought to be a simple question: “Can I sync Things on the iPhone with two different desktops?” I’m giving some thought to getting a netbook and hackintoshing it and was curious if I could sync Things with it and my MacBook. I got back a response along these lines: “Not yet, but we’re working on it.”

In a recent blog post titled “This is not a roadmap,” Cultured Code, um, laid out a roadmap — kinda, sorta, maybe. Its “a roadmap by any other name” hints at the following upcoming features: Read More about Cultured Code Announces a Roadmap-That’s-Not-a-Roadmap

Things Keeps Tasks Under Control

Things-LogoIf there’s one thing I’ve learned in my quest to organize my workflow, it is that everyone’s brain works differently. There are almost as many answers to the question “what task management tool do you like” as there are people, and we’ve reviewed a host of those solutions here at WebWorkerDaily.
I’ve struggled for years to try to find the right solution for me. I’ve used a Franklin Planner, a Palm T/X (s palm), Microsoft Outlook (s msft), Remember The Milk, and a few other options. Nothing ever seemed quite right for me, though, and at times I found myself scribbling on paper pads still.
That was the case until I bought my first Mac (s aapl) and started looking for a task list for OS X. One of my friends recommended Things from Cultured Code. I almost didn’t try it because of the price ($49.95 desktop, $9.95 iPhone app). Thankfully, there is a free trial of the desktop application, so I was able to check it out without committing to the hefty price tag. It’s good that there’s a free trial, because I would otherwise have passed it by.
Put simply, Things has been the solution I’ve been searching for. It has revolutionized my productivity. It works with my natural flow, instead of against it. Read More about Things Keeps Tasks Under Control

Apple Design Award 2009 Winners

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Apple (s aapl) announced the winners of the 2009 Apple Design Awards last night at a special ceremony hosted by John Geleynse, director of Software Technology Evangelism, and Shann Pruden, senior director for Developer Relations. These awards are an annual affair to recognize “technical excellence, innovation, and outstanding achievement in iPhone and Mac software development.”

The depth and breadth of submissions has been accelerating, as interest in the Mac and iPhone has picked up over the last few years. As a point of comparison, the iPhone awards last year were handed out to early pre-release apps because the App Store had not even launched yet. There were about 1,700 web apps in Apple’s online directory, and this year there are over 4,000 web apps and more than 50,000 native apps available in the iTunes App Store.

Rather than being split out into categories for best game, best user experience, best application, and so on as has been the practice in past years, this year’s awards were simply organized into Mac and iPhone showcases. Here are the 2009 winners. Read More about Apple Design Award 2009 Winners

Tudumo: Simple and Intuitive GTD for Windows

tdlogoAfter reading my review of uTodo and seeing that I was looking for a Windows equivalent of the Mac GTD app, Things, I was contacted by Richard Watson, developer of Tudumo. Richard wrote, “I wondered if you’d heard of Tudumo?  It’s fairly similar to Things in concept, with maybe a bit more of a minimalist feel. I suspect not as slick – they’ve got a few more guys on the team than me – but I’ve always thought of it as ‘a Mac-like experience on Windows’.”
Intrigued, I rushed off to download it, and having played with it for a few days, I can say that it’s very close to what I’m looking for – perhaps as close as I will get without buying a Mac. Read More about Tudumo: Simple and Intuitive GTD for Windows

Syncing Apps With Dropbox

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Many Mac users are fortunate enough to have more than one machine. Whether it’s a home desktop and laptop, or a home and office machine, it can be very useful to keep some form of continuity between the two systems. This is easy enough to do with individual files — simply using an online service such as Dropbox or Syncplicity to keep everything synchronized between two machines. But what about applications?

This article will explain how easy it is to keep many popular applications in sync between more than one computer. It doesn’t involve putting all your data on ‘the cloud’ — you still have a local copy if a service closes down for any reason. The steps outlined work for the applications noted here, and may well be applicable to a different piece of software you’d like to keep synchronized. We’ve previously written how to achieve something similar for your iTunes library, but will now take the idea a little further, extending it to other apps. Read More about Syncing Apps With Dropbox