In a previous blog, I pointed out that Internet of Things was probably a bit of a misnomer whilst also somewhat selling short the capability of IoT to support, if not drive meaningful business change. The “Things” have grown exponentially, and the Internet is really just a transport mechanism for the data the Things generate or report on. But the numbers are big – it’s estimated that there about 7 billion devices connected now which are classed as IoT, and that by 2025 there will be almost 80 zettabytes of IoT related data. Bear in mind that the population of the Earth is “only” 8 billion and that a zettabyte is just a staggeringly large number.
From a nomenclature perspective we’re already seeing a separation in the terminology – an example being some of our Defence clients now using sub-categories like IoMT (Internet of Military Things) and IoBT (Internet of Battlefield Things) to add greater degrees of specificity. But regardless of how we divide it or name it, the data is still just data – right?
We’re in a period where the problems with managing, storing and securing vast amounts of data have become all too apparent. It seems that every day we see a new story about the leak or misuse of data, resultant hand-wringing, fines and reputational damage. However, this tends to be almost exclusively centred on personal data which of course is incredibly sensitive.
It’s not really possible to get meaningful statistics on how much of the 80 zettabytes of IoT data in 2025 will be personal data (i.e. linked to an identifiable person) but based on what we see in the market, it is actually likely to be in the minority. Of course, Kinsetsu’s solutions and indeed those of others track and report on the location, actions and in some cases characteristics of people, but typically it’s rarely necessary to link the data to an individual. Or more accurately, linking it to an individual would add little in the way of additional value to the data compared to the well documented issues with holding personal data.
Very often when designing solutions for our clients, we first need to ask ourselves questions about why we are capturing the data before we ask ourselves if we can. For instance, on large industrial sites like power stations it’s important to know where service or maintenance staff are deployed, but is there much extra usable value gained by knowing their name? Rarely is the answer “yes” as usually knowing someone is there and doing something is enough. So whilst the majority of IoT use cases we’re seeing involve equipment, devices and capital assets, inevitably on occasions the Things bit will actually be people. But it doesn’t always need to be a person.
Chief Commercial Officer, Kinsetsu