ACG Research

ACG Research
We focus on the Why before the What

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Most IoT Industry Narratives Are Wrong!

Yes, it’s true; Internet of Things (IoT) is caught up in the whirlwind of hype, exuberance and outright giddiness. It will be a sad day when neophyte IoT enthusiast wake up and realize this. You can’t blame the younger crowd from behaving this way as it’s probably their first tech hype cycle (documented by The Gartner Hype Cycle). Anyone over 30, however, should know better. 

Hype cycles are a fun ride and ironically, many entities and people make a lot of money in the exuberant whirlwind as enthusiast entrepreneurs and innovation ecosystem participants race to be part of next unicorn or the next Google, Facebook, etc. The first to make money are the highly respected market research firms. It’s a $9 trillion dollar market, no it’s a $14 trillion market, no wait let’s call it the Internet of Everything and call it an $18 trillion market. If it’s everything why is it only $18 trillion. The first question to ask them is “are you sure it’s not $14.7652497 trillion?” Guess their dart board doesn’t have that kind of resolution. Yet, people buy these reports to show internal and external investment sources that their idea is a slam dunk. Ten percent market share is still $1.4 billion dollars, right.

The next to make money in hype cycles are the trade show and conference companies. There are global, national and regional IoT conferences every month. Companies pay to speak to position themselves as thought leaders and people pay to attend to get smart. Note to self, next time I pay a hard-earned dollar to attend an IoT event please assess me with a $1,000 stupidity tax. The topics covered in these shows haven’t evolved in two to three years. By the way, in a few years there WILL NOT be IoT conferences as the topics will be covered in the appropriate vertical market conference: cloud, big data and analytics.

These two early money makers are what’s driving the erroneous narrative of IoT. Why is it wrong? Let’s take an end-to-end view of a solution utilizing IoT technologies (note phrasing). First, we’ll normalize the intelligence throughout the system to 100. The current narrative looks at the IoT equation as this:

In many discussions even Ithing is extremely small and most of the intelligence is located in the cloud and includes “big data” and “analytics.” Isn’t there a glaring omission in this narrative formula? By this definition Inetwork is zero:

Thus, the network must be always there, instantly accessible and, of course, free. The current narratives imply that network intelligence is zero. Isn’t the “I” in IoT the “Internet”? Perhaps for many IoT enthusiast the network is zero since they don’t care about:

1. Cost of transmission (it’s not always free)
2. Cost and power consumption of the modem/radio in the thing
3. Bit rates: maximum, minimum, average peak, average, symmetry (upstream/downstream)
4. Distance verse throughput
5. Latency, round trip delay, connection set up time.
6. Jitter, congestion, dropped packets, availability,
7. Security

There are many markets under the IoT hype umbrella (note phrasing again) where the network can be zero. However, for most markets the network cannot be a ZERO! The correct formula and the correct industry narrative is:

It’s open to an interesting discussion of how the 100 units of intelligence are distributed. Yet, one thing we know for certain is:

Therefore, service providers (telco, cable, wireless) need to take action to change the industry narrative or risk becoming a commodity bit pipe providers. The longer Inetwork is zero the more challenging it will be to overcome this perception. Networking solution vendors need to actively participate in changing this narrative as well or they risk selling commodity solutions to the commodity bit pipe providers.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail contact Greg at

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