Internet of Things ecosystem

Here is the picture of an ecosystem, one visualized by Babson College technology and information management whiz Bala Iyer, as "a loose network of interacting products and services."

Iyer's visualization comes alive as part of commentary and assertion in a Harvard Business Review piece entitled, "To Predict the Trajectory of the Internet of Things, Look to the Software Industry."

Okay, so not a title that trips lightly off the tongue. But that's not the point. Look back at the image, its beauty, its complexity, its simplicity. Back off from it with your eyes, and it could be constellations of stars mapped across nearly infinite space, or, equally, it could be a subatomic spectacle that identifies parts of parts of parts of matter in balance across time and motion.

The issue is this. As Iyer notes, the Internet of Things is, right now, a big and growing-bigger soup of potential, as yet not concentrated into agenda-setting power players. He writes:

Consequently, it could be difficult to determine the challenges and most effective business opportunities for companies looking to move into the space. But by mapping the relationships between platform providers and component providers, I found parallels to the emergence of the software industry.

The parallels Iyer spotlights take the form of five guidelines:

  1. Watch for Fragmentation
  2. Track Partnerships
  3. Understand where dominance outside IoT could be extended to IoT
  4. Think infrastructure first
  5. Use APIs to figure out ways to create customer value

Iyer's concluding insights are valuable to a residential development and home building community that's trying to get its collective mind around how and what home technologies home buyers will adapt and gravitate towards as competitive differentiators amid such fast-paced advances in the design, function, and requirements. He writes.

What’s more, once vendors see customers use their products in combination with each other, they can then choose to explore corresponding integration strategies. For example, car companies could track app downloads to help decide standard package for new users. Companies could also use this data to make targeted recommendations to customers for new apps, products, or services.

In many ways the home as a great big consumer durable interface means that home builders, those who are doing the construction, and those who are parts of the platforms of product and service that lead to the by-product, a homeowner's "user experience" via a "user interface" suggests there are more parallels one could look at between the development of the Internet of Things and the development of what will one-day be home construction.

Look, for instance, at Wall Street Journal tech writer Christopher Mims' obsession of the moment, carbon-fiber, stronger, ounce for ounce, than steel or aluminum, but light, like the future. Mims writes:


Marry those two technologies [carbon-fiber with 3D printing], and things get interesting. The all-electric BMW i3 has a carbon-fiber frame that extends its range by making it significantly lighter. Other possibilities include light but strong parts for drones and other aircraft, as well as replacing materials in many everyday objects—from furniture to machine tools—with carbon fiber.

Isn't change fun?