The Power of Stories

There are many stories to show how the Internet of Things (IoT) accelerates innovation and permeates out daily lives. And of courses there are the ones of failure, long lead times, and exceeding budgets. The success stories unveil new customer value, improved services, and even new disruptive, business models. They talk about revenue and cost savings. About opening new markets and about reinvigorate others. The favorite stories of many are about unexpected newcomers to put incumbents to the risk of getting ‘Amazoned’.

telling stories - storytellingMore in general, I agree with Grey Heron’s Chris Kocher: “Now is the time to decide how to build and monetize a sustainable business around your technology, IP and to IoT innovations”.

Throughout human history, stories have been powerful tools to explore, to share and to build common understanding. Today, with all these pervasive new technologies, stories on how to explore their potential and reap their benefits may be instrumental to individual organizations get hold on their future.

Nothing new, everything different
IoT is build on commonplace objects exchanging information with each other and with computers. It makes objects respond to one another. IoT is not a newly developed system. In fact, most of it is existing technology. Microcontrollers, sensors (measuring a physical quantity and transform this in an analogue or digital signal processed by a computer), actuators (transforming electrical signals in movement, sound or light), communication protocols, data processing and storage. They are all have been around for decades.

inflamable stories

What’s new are the extreme lower cost of all these components. The impact of Moore’s law on the exponential growth of processing power can be rephrased as “Put processing power to the waste” or – more bluntly – “Digitize or Die”. The exponential growth of network capacity and ubiquitous communication prompt to “Put bandwidth to the waste” or – to paraphrase the former – “Connect or Die”. And then there are these enormous streams of data and the technology to store and process these data in the cloud.

The cloud is a technology defining the 21st century. It transforms IT to a service-based industry with its ability to rent computing services rather then owning and maintain the physical infrastructure and cumbersome software packages. In the cloud hardware or software resources are consumed as a metered, pay-as-you-go service. By outsourcing infrastructure or applications to the cloud, you lower your total cost of ownership by making fixed costs variable.

The trick today is not to invent a new gadget or software app. Today it is all about ingenious ways to cut and paste all these components. Storytelling is a wonderful way to help to discover the meaning of things. A storyteller explains and connects with his audience on an emotional level. The stories talk about feelings and try to get the same feeling to the audience. And do-it-yourself has never been easier. Open up for a flow.

Context matters
Disney’s ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ may be told to many. Boccaccio’s ‘Decameron’ should not be read to a kid. The location to tell a story, in other words, impacts the storyline. This holds for IoT.

If you are a large company, you want your story to discover the power to leverage your customer relations. Together with your customers, you generate insights into nascent needs and opportunities and test bed new offerings. If you are a start-up, you are fighting for your first customers. Then, a tight focus, the generation of feedback, rapid response and the creation of immediate traction appear to be key.

As an incumbent you may also want to leverage your installed customer base to partner with others to bring their offerings through your distribution channels. For a new entrant this make look the opposite. Cooperation with an incumbent creates opportunities to go to market effectively and to increase credibility.

Product companies with hardware devices may look for the ‘hardware premium’ and turn one-time sales into ongoing revenue streams. Service companies may add new value by integrating IoT devices and support them.

Pick your storyline
Stories touch your hart and focus on the key benefits you want to achieve. The driver in most IoT-stories is simple: reduce cost. Think: streamline operations, improve efficiency, shorten development cycles, reengineer operations, shorten supply chains or reduce inventory cost or the cost of customer acquisition.

Another set of stories focusses on the addition of revenue by selling new products, better satisfy customer needs, boost customer loyalty, reduce churn, enter new markets, create new business models or invent referrals.

stories of IoT surveillance

In a third set of stories fillets and re-engineers a value chain and brings new business models:

Lean and structured thinking
With these kind of storylines comes a principled approach to new product development, Lean Start-up:

stories of IoT cooking

Working in a large institution. No sweat. The Internal Start-ups Cookbook tells about ways to develop new things to fit in the cooperation’s long-term vision and strategy and don’t come from its roadmap

Those who tell stories rule the world
In his plea to pertain to handicraft, the Dutch novelist Jamal Ouariachi urges the storyteller to hand facts and visualize thoughts, leaving conclusions, judgements and interpretation to the listener. But watch out: it is not simple to tell a good story. Experience shows it is hard work. You have to rework the script over and over again …. until it twinkles!

Pieter van Hoogstraten

5 Tips on Monetizing IoT

By 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices. The latest Gartner forecast predicts that by 2020 there will be $309 billion in incremental revenue opportunity for IoT suppliers, mostly in services. With numbers like these, it’s clear IoT is not just another trend. It’s the future of business. It will change the base of competition and drive new business models for user and supplier companies.

It makes sense to organizations to investigate IoT opportunities. Typically, they look for a business case with a focus on the shortest path to enabling them to save money: they look at IoT to automate processes.

It appears the real value of IoT to organizations lies in how it has the potential to fundamentally change the interaction with customers. Through new products and services, but also new business models. More specifically it is about moving from a Capex model to one that is based on a recurring Opex model.

In the traditional way of doing business – selling unconnected products – a company is focused on the features and benefits of its products. Whilst in the connected services world it will focus on the use of its products as well as the customer experience.

Monitizing IoT Setelia


The Cloud is the container for Anything as a service (XaaS).  But we may pull this further. It is the power of IoT to transform a business to sell products and services as a service rather than in the traditional model.

Why can’t you sell usage of a car based on the mileage the customer drives rather than requiring them to pay €30,000 just to have a car?

Tien Tzuo of Zuora asks “How about the ability to monitor machines that are in use at customer sites?” And presents how makers of industrial equipment can shift from selling capital goods to selling their products as services. “Sensor data will tell the manufacturer how much the machinery is used, enabling the manufacturer to charge by usage. Service and maintenance could be bundled into the hourly rate, or all services could be provided under an annual contract. The service might also include periodic upgrades (software downloads, for example). Performance from the machinery can inform the design of new models and help the manufacturer cross-sell additional products and services. This as-a-service approach can give the supplier a more intimate tie with customers that competitors would find difficult to disrupt”.



Implementing IoT strategies is not easy. Gartner expects three out of four IoT projects to face schedule extensions of up to 100 percent with the consequent cost overruns. The more ambitious and complicated the project, the greater the schedule overruns. It is clear, to put IoT in place many components need to come together:

Typically, these components are supplied by different suppliers with independent product lifecycles. Inevitably, that has created a highly fragmented landscape and organizations that have tried to create an integrated capability themselves have found it extremely challenging to bring together a specific device, software, connectivity, data storage and analytics capabilities.

These capabilities are not the core business of IoT users so their energies are better spent directed at developing new offerings, products and services which make use of IoT rather than trying to build IoT capabilities It is our view that the more of the components and the capabilities that can be supplied as a shrink-wrapped offering, the easier it will be for companies to manage risk and the easier and faster it will be for them to deploy services.


5 Tips

There are some simple tips to help monetizing the IoT opportunities:

But the biggest challenge is to create consensus across the organization. That has to bring in all the chief stakeholders because it does impact them all. The entire organization needs to be engaged to support the transformation. Three key attributes pop up: agility, flexibility, and above all leadership.

Accept & Embrace the Change

Change is inevitable. A new president, a new CEO, a new manager and/or new technologies. New is often experienced as disruptive. Whether it was your choice or not, is not relevant. It will happen, deal with it. You probably are not in the situation/position to stop it.

So how to deal with change.

Accepting change is like going through the mourning phases. As the Kübler-Ross model for death and bereavement counseling, personal change and trauma. The 5 phases: Denial -> Anger -> Bargaining -> Depression -> Acceptance.

I’ll not go further on how to deal with a new president ... More interesting is how to deal with a new strategy due to new technologies, who challenge your company and the way you work. The cloud, social, mobile, Internet of Things, Virtual & Artificial Intelligence (will) have a huge impact on companies and society. We have to rethink on how to deal with an overload of information, new authorities and the way we work.

The adoption of change is not a straight line. Adopting change is the oil in the implementation process of a new strategy. The adoption of change is based on 3 elements.

adoption-of-change (Peer Goudsmit)

Let’s zoom in on these 3 key success factors.

Adoption is a critical success factor for execution of a new strategy and dealing with a new situation. To ‘quote’ Darwin: "It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change."

Good luck!!!!

Author: Peer Goudsmit

The Gbit/s race

Deloitte Global predicts for 2016 that the number of Gbit/s internet subscriptions on the globe will surge to 10 million by the year-end, a ten-fold increase, of which about 70% will be residential connections. Looking further ahead, by 2020 this increases to 600 million subscribers, 5 to 10 percent of all broadband connections. Of these, about 90% would be residential, and the rest for business.

As faster speeds become available, the range of applications using higher bandwidth increase and the number of screens/devices per person steady rises. The Media Research Group points at the explosion of the number of connected devices per broadband household: from only 1 – the laptop – in 2000, 6,3 in 2010 to 10 in 2015. Depending on the consultancy firm the Internet of Things will boost this to 25, 30 or more in 2020.

GBit race 1

Also small businesses have experienced a significant increase in bandwidth demand, with the move to cloud-based services for a growing range of applications as key driver.

The logic in the Gbit/s race refers to:

Only a limited number of technologies are likely to be capable of Gbit/s: Fiber to the Home (FTTH) or Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) based on fiber technology and DOCSIS to speed-up cable broadband networks.

Mobile is eating the world

In a similar way the capacity of mobile networks rapidly expands, bringing more bandwidth to the end-user, more and more only connected through through “mobile devices eating the World”. The pace of the development of “mobile” is without precedence.

The race is on to set 5G standards for fifth-generation wireless technology, where it was a major topic at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where telecom equipment manufacturers including Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia are featuring 5G demonstrations. Many carriers and equipment providers also have been collaborating in university settings to be able to offer 5G wireless Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than anything available now. It is held to be ideal to support bandwidth-hungry applications around video, virtual and augmented reality and the internet of things (IoT), because it will support many radio interfaces and use radio spectrum much more efficient.

Telecoms and mobile operator AT&T has announced a 5G mobile network roadmap. It said it will conduct field trials of 5G technologies to provide wireless connectivity to fixed locations before the year is out.

The operator said it would embark on a laboratory-based collaboration with Ericsson and Intel to work on 5G systems this spring. In Ausin, Texas, it will perform outdoor tests and trials to take place over the summer.

As average data connections get faster, services become more bandwidth consumptive. New today unviable data-intensive services will emerge and new ‘data-gulping’ devices pop up.

In addition to the bandwidth usage triggered by human activity, the volume of background data usage grows. Every device is likely to require online updates on apps or operating system. And then there is the expected growth of the Internet of Things to add to network stress.

Capacity, reach, and capability

The primary motivation is to increase network capacity and extend the reach of voice services:

The scene

In the DNA in the telecommunication industry economies of scale are dominant. It is a fact that the telecom spend in value chains decreases in value chains in many industries. Connectivity is growing at a lower rate then other parts of the value chain. Carriers are forced to beat the drums of efficiency and economies of scale (McKinsey/Datastream) and that's what they do.

Rupert Wood draws the bigger picture. In developed markets, mobile networks do not have anything like enough capacity or quality for many consumers seriously to consider switching all their data consumption to mobile. As long as fixed broadband represents better value for money, consumers will tend to cut the use of mobile data. Converged operators enjoy this phenomenon because any increased usage of data, including mobile data, actually reinforces the value of the fixed broadband connection.

GBit race 2

(Research: Bob Bunnik)

The many transactions in the last 18 months have changed the telecom landscape in Europe. In particular, mobile operators merge to improve their market position and generate synergies.

Combinations of mobile and fixed operators create the ability to generate economies of scale on the network side and economies of scope in the service delivery


It is most unlikely that the speed race stops at the 1 Gbit/s milestone. In 2015 Salisbury  (North Carolina) is the first city to offer a 10 Gbit/s connection to its citizens, elsewhere the industry contemplates 50 Gbit/s connections. Internet speeds will continue to rise in the long term.

Author: Pieter van Hoogstraten

4 key elements for being successful!

When talking about personal development, the learning & development experts often refer to the 70:20:10 principle from Charles Jennings. Learning and development is 70% about doing, 20% learning from others and 10% learning from courses or books. And I agree, all relevant methods to develop yourself. In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell already said that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Well, my question is if that is the 70% practice? Indeed, experience is relevant, but is that all? No. In my opinion there are 4 relevant factors that lead to success: Knowledge, Experience, “The art of….” and Motivation.


Let’s zoom in on these 4 key success factors.

  1. Knowledge: The easiest part. Educate yourself, go to conferences, seminars, read, and surf the web for free information and training on the topics you are interested in. You will know where to go: TED, YouTube, Coursera et cetera.
  1. Experience: Practice, practice, practice. So try to get the job/assignment/project with the tasks that will provide you the opportunity to gain the right experience. Probably not your dream job, yet, so see it as a journey. Challenge yourself on doing the right things. Imagine what recruiters will ask you when you get a job interview based on STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Failure is a great experience as well. Keep on trying!
  1. “The Art of …”: For me “The art of…” stands for creativity in applying strategy & tactics in execution of the assignment. Creativity stands for "original and of high quality". Remember that creative people;

As you can see, this goes way beyond the rather directive “How to …. for dummies”- books. You are able to do the same tasks as others in a better way and with much better outcome.

  1. In my opinion, the most important one. A good definition of motivation is: “Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal”. This is also an area where every professional can make up for possible shortcomings in the first three success factors! When contemplating your own performances, one tends to look at skills and competences. Well in my opinion, Motivation is that driving force which allows you to achieve your goals and go after what you truly want to achieve in life, whether you are an employee or a freelancer.

As in proper mathematics, in case one of the above is zero….. the outcome is 0


Author: Peer Goudsmit

Mobile Computing Management

In a headline De Volkskrant presents KPN’s annual report over 2015: “Business market hurts KPN”. There are good things to say on KPN’s positive results, but the journal pinpoints a serious problem.

Over 2015 KPN revenue in this market dropped by € 400 million, with some 10%. For the company it appears to be a trend, since the operator copes with this decline for some years. The reduction refers to the inclining demand in private switches and fixed lines. But it does not reflect the opportunities in a growing number of markets that only function in an online environment.

Telecommunication changed the way companies produce, distribute, cooperate, interact with their customers, etc. This boosts a market for managed communication services. The reason is simple.  More and more organizations rely on their IT infrastructure but have no budget to staff technicians. It makes perfect sense for KPN to jump on the bandwagon of 'managed services' and develop these services as a logic extension of its core business. KPN has a customer base. There are digital product lines. And the company has invested in IT-expertise to manage its digital products. Of course this new source of revenue is on its radar. Looking at empirical statistics, the development of managed services particularly includes the use of laptops netbooks, tablets and smartphones on the hardware side, and OTT-services and cloud storage on the software side.


Communication, or more precise connectivity, has become a utility.  It is no less critical to modern living than water or electricity. Yet for the most part people who have access to connectivity take it completely for granted. Therefor the most obvious disruption that has appeared in the telecom market is that of vertical integration.

The acquisition of Getronics – in 2007 – KPN created the ability to transform into an end-to-end ICT service provider in the business market. There is a blurring line between telecommunications and IT. The pervasiveness of Internet makes managed services more than managing basic connections and devices. It may also strengthen the revenue stream of KPN. But the dynamics in the development of IT have changed.



Not so long ago it was only when you joined a company you learned how to use software and computers. But now the situation is reversed. The new workers today in most cases have more access to technology at home then in the office.

We are facing the first time ever consumer-led IT revolution in history. Consumer trends are forcing us all to change and this change is inevitable. It is not a strategy or something to be “adopted.” Consumerization can be embraced and it must be dealt with, but it cannot be stopped. It effects every organization.

But there is more. Every employee and customer today is like a teenager – they want everything instant at all times, on any device and have it easy to use with no training required. Everybody expects to move seamless from one device to the next – from a PC to smartphone or tablet. And that puts a stress on the development and the delivery of services and on customer satisfaction.

In the TV market KPN understood this well. It was successful in differentiating services in TV. It presented “Live TV-pausing” and “Start-over” in early 2014, and “TV Everywhere” and the integration of OTT-services with Netflix in 2015. These brought continued high IPTV net adds and a growing market share in the TV-market.


The thing is that a smartphone or a tablet is not just a phone or a small laptop, but a whole lot more that adds to productivity or ease of work. “Mobile is eating the World” is Benedict Evans’ powerful statement.

In an extensive research IDG  says some 83% of organizations are planning to invest in mobile technology in the next 12 months.  Tablets and employee training (49% each) leading the priority list. Buying smartphones (43%), network consulting and integration services (34%) and application development and improved user experience (33%) being the top four investment priorities.

IDG notes 82% of organizations are making changes to their policies and IT infrastructure to support the proliferation of personal devices. These changes include creating policies on how corporate data can be shared, investing in mobile device management solutions, and purchasing secure file sharing services.

Organizations have a long priority list for selecting mobile technology solutions. Security and reliability of the software or network are the top requirements, closely followed by ease of use and integration into existing infrastructure.

Mobile computing management

That opens the line of differentiating through innovative services. This means monitoring and managing the whole environment of mobile computing management. This may include Office 365, the internet, the router, the firewall, switches and OTT-services. KPN is able to track and manage every single point of contact right up to the mobile device that the end user is holding to access their email, the cloud, the Internet and various applications. It’s all about seamless mobile computing with zero distinction between these devices.

It took a while before IT-departments embraced the benefits of the consumerization. But for traditionalists in IT it’s an uphill fight. IDG reported 67% of the participating companies gaining positive Return on Investment (ROI) from their investments in Bring Your Own Device technologies and solutions.  The greatest contributors to positive ROI include increased user productivity (50%), increased employee morale (39%), external customer satisfaction (18%), and revenue growth (16%).


High margin value added managed network services – like Virtual Private Networks, Wide Area Networks – shift to Internet with cloud-based – and OTT-like services. And with a market share of 70% in fixed telephony counter-balancing this trend is a challenge.

I think “mobile computing management” is imperative to change gears in the business market. This market accounts for over a third of the revenue of KPN. The challenge for KPN is to organize the agility in its organization, leave legacy behind and to capitalize on an a key aspect of the blurring line between work and private life: the consumerization of IT.

Author: Pieter van Hoogstraten

Perfect Storm

In 2016 Managed Services continues to be a high growth market with many providers acquiring new customers, managing new devices and building recurring revenue. The reason is simple: more and more small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) rely on their IT infrastructure without the IT budgets to justify staffing their own technicians.

But there is more then sun. The next 2 years will bring more change in this market than the last 15 years did. Mike Cullen, VP Sales at N-able Technologies, coined today's developments in the Managed Services business after the 1991 nor'easter that absorbed a category 5 hurricane, the perfect storm.


The 2000 American disaster drama film visualizes the Perfect Storm. The movie is based on the true story of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing vessel lost at sea in that 1991 storm.

New entrants

For sure, the Manages Service Providers (MSP) industry is facing rapid changes. Traditionally Managed Services are high-margin business characterized by "sticky" customer relationships. There seems little need to change and some MSPs have not evolved their service delivery model to keep up with the speed of business.

There is turmoil coming up. It makes perfect sense for telco's, manufacturers of copiers, printers, servers, and software giants to jump on the managed services bandwagon and develop Managed Service initiatives as a logic extension of their core business:

Some call this conversion others talk about new entrants. In both cases it is about existing players with deep pockets entering the Managed Services market.

Commodification and price dropping

All these new entrants commit to Managed Services as a way to diversify their revenue and add new value to established customers.

More competitors bring two inevitabilities: commodification of services and price cuts. The new entrants have infrastructure and thus efficiencies to leverage. They use these to create compelling service bundles while driving prices down.

To a certain extend there is an interesting reference to car services.


Not so long ago, general-purpose garages delivered most of the car services including gas. Dealer networks brought the car industry new ways to extend the relation with their customers and open a new source of revenue. They leveraged operational efficiencies and productized their automotive services. That led to fixed price, commoditized services for standard repairs. The corner garage crushed because it couldn't compete with the operational efficiencies offered by the dealers.


Thrive against these new competitors needs a new level of operational efficiency.

By reducing the cost of delivering managed services a MSP immediately improves its profitability. Automation of as many standard manual tasks is key. It dramatically improves the number of devices managed per technician while delivering services to end customers more quickly, efficiently, and to a consistent service standard. The more you can automate, the less time you spend reinventing the wheel. The more efficient you become, the fewer scripts you will need to write, and the more consistent your service delivery will be.

A modern MSP should be leveraging the latest technologies themselves, and once thoroughly tested, providing cutting edge technology solutions to their clients. If the MSPs entire business model does not fit with this philosophy, then they will not be capable of providing their clients with strategic technology guidance.


Payam Pourhomami explains that in today's on-demand world, the modern MSP focuses on proactive providing their customers with support and guidance. This means on-demand support when needed, whether it is remote or on-site. The modern MSP is able to address customer issues through the use of remote access technologies, and cut down on their overhead expenses, instead of sending an engineer on-site for a basic issue. Thus MSPs can take on higher volumes of support issues with less staff, making them more profitable, and in theory pass those cost savings on to their customers, making them more competitive.

reactive-managed-service(Source: 2016 Pricing Guide Solarwinds N-Able)

The level of sophistication reflects the value added and the type of partnership of the MSP with its customers.

Create value

The Andres Gail did not survive its endeavors in the Perfect Storm with its in 40-foot waves. The boat capsized, crew-members fell overboard or were trapped inside. The film ends with the reading of the eulogy at a memorial service.

It does not have to be that dramatic for the MSP if he understands that Managed Services is not about technology. It is about a business model for generating recurring revenue from a profitable mix of IT services.

The key for the MSP is to keep showing how its Managed Services can address top business priorities of its customers. MSP is about how high-value IT services will result in better employee productivity, less network downtime and an optimized infrastructure. Communicate the value of the IT on a customer's core business, become a "trusted advisor" and a strategic partner, providing consultation and guidance on future technologies, thereby empowering your organization to work towards furthering its mission.

Author: Pieter van Hoogstraten

Connecting to 2020

It's the time to present trends and outlines to 2020 and beyond. In any case it is obvious that technical innovation will continue to be critical to the networking industry. And in any case, it is complex. There are many forces that impact its evolution over time.


We have seen disruptions drive most of this change. Not the type that follows the traditional path of the "disruptive innovation" as we have witnessed the 1970-2010 era, but – as shown by Larry Downes and Paul Nunes in Harvard Business Review – in the shape of a Big Bang.

Unplanned and unintentional: "The innovators who create products at "hackathons" aren't even trying to disrupt your business. You're just collateral damage". Some students of the Delft University of Technology are a perfect example. They build an app to engage smartphones in a network. Autonomous and expanding virus-like. No network operator anymore.



In the age of Facebook Internet fads can infect the whole world in a matter of days. Proof provides the lightning fast introductions of Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, Skype, FaceTime, TripAdvisor, Amazon and many more. But it emanates far beyond information-based goods and services and stretches out to cars, food and networking.

My 'five cents' are that business-as-usual is riskier then investing in ways to transform the business with technology. Yesterday's business best practices were rooted in the organization. Today technology starts to drive business best practices. By 2020 technology capabilities will be ahead of these business best practices.

Frail predictions

In the eve of 2016 De Volkskrant journalist Maarten Keulemans dived in He looked for predictions in earlier days about 2015. Some predictions date back to 1915, others were more recent. Some were stunningly accurate. The result supports the conclusions of Philip Tetlock. He and his team researched 27.450 assessments of the future made by professionals. Most of these were – far – out of line. And predictions of experts were just as accurate as wild guesses. But there is hope. In 'Superforecasting' he shows that certain people can forecast certain events with accuracy much better than chance. His tell to the legions of researchers and professionals trying to predict is "act with humility".

Distrust the crystal ball! I feel comfortable with metaphor of Freija van Duijne, president of the Dutch Future Society.

Thinking about possible futures she refers to the noble game of chess. There are many variables defining the context of a move and its possible result. Designing different options strengthens your strategic skills. And that is helpful in facing every day's challenges.


Proper preparations

Key in your connection to 2020 is:


On the road to 2020 we will meet a lot of disruption in our industry. Keep on track by:

Prediction is difficult, but getting things right for the future is the thing to do. And learn to recognize the warning signs of the emergence of disruptors to find the space and time to act.

Author: Pieter van Hoogstraten


Once connected a passive thing can be pretty intrusive. When connected smart things may cause landslides. McKinsey researcher Aharon believes that any business that fails to invest heavy in Internet of Things in the next 10 years will be unlikely to remain competitive.

The thing

In the late thirties of the last decade the Russian inventor Lev Termen created a tapping device for the NKVD to eavesdrop the US Embassy in Moscow. This piece of electronics was completely passive. Activated by electromagnetic waves it sends waves back compiled with the sounds from the room it was in.


A first specimen of this device was hidden in an honorary plate presented in 1945 by Russian children to the US Ambassador. "The Thing" hung in plain view in the Ambassador's office. – far left of the picture. When inactive, it was impossible to detect it with a scanner. When discovered, as late as September 1952, it took the CIA years to reconstruct a working copy. Maurits Martijn unravelled the involvement of the Nederlands Radar Proefstation in this backward engineering.

So even a passive thing can – when properly embedded – be a valuable source of information. So what happens if the thing becomes active?

Active things

A car sends out information on its whereabouts using the GPS of its navigator. It helps the driver to find his way in any network of roads. Bundling these data on the whereabouts of all TomTom navigators presents the driver information on the flow of traffic over this network in simple green, orange and red.

The data on an individual car are biased. It says where it is and if it moves or not. But the aggregation of all these data brings an unbiased view on fluidity of the roads. It made TomTom shift its focus from the production of navigation devices to the delivery of traffic-generated information.


There are many cases of things in the physical world – machines, cars, and even trees – that send out information to generate information for real-time action by humans of by machines. Today 9 billion devices are connected. By 2020, this will add to some 50 to 75 billion things. This is Internet of Things. It connects people, machines and things in a bidirectional flow of information and enables real time decisions. The basic routine in this automated communication is "chatting". These things use sensors to describe their situation. They don't analyze these data; or think about them. A light bulb may say: "Yes, I am on". A steel wheel of a train may say: "I am not square yet". It is just measure and send.

Network stress

The aggregated traffic from all these devices will be enormous, and – as Christopher Surdak puts it - will stress our networks to the max. This stress enforces both enhanced network capacity – through optimization and extra capacity – and the embedding of more intelligence in these end-points.


Then, they won't just measure and send, they'll process, assess, synthesize. As objects get smarter they can become more independent and send less. They won't just broadcast the conditions around them; they'll make decisions independently. The reduction of the network load will only be temporarily. A myriad of applications in the Internet of Things will boost network capacity to a next level.

Author: Pieter van Hoogstraten