Internet Of Things? We’ve Been Doing That For 25 Years – Forbes

Guest post written by
Peter Zornio

The author is Chief Strategic Officer of Emerson Process Management

Since before it had a name, the IoT has been helping industrial companies make processes more reliable, efficient and safe, says Peter Zornio.

Like a 17-year locust, the Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged from a prolonged larval stage and begun taking over the world. The buzz is nearly overwhelming. “The Internet of Things Is Reaching Escape Velocity,” TechCrunch reports. “For Samsung, ‘Internet of Things’ is the sign of things to come,” proclaims The Economic Times. “Center Stage for Devices Connecting the Home,” declares The New York Times.

If you believe the hype, Internet-connected sensors and applications will soon be monitoring and even running every aspect of our lives – from our “smart” homes to our self-driving cars to our retail habits to our health and fitness. So sit back and relax: The IoT is about to give you much better control of your life or even take over for you.

And you’re going to love it.

All of which leaves me feeling bemused. On the one hand, I believe we really have reached an inflection point for the IoT; we are about to see it expand into new areas of our lives and play a more significant role. On the other hand, a little perspective is definitely in order.

The Internet of Things is not new. For the past 25 years — ever since the development of microprocessors and network-based instruments — companies in the process industries such as oil and gas, chemicals, refining, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and mining have been avidly exploring how to use sensors to make their processes more reliable, efficient and safe.

Many of these enterprises work with products and materials that can be readily measured as they flow through pipes. And with the help of my company, Emerson Process Management, they have gained deep experience in the IoT, even if they haven’t always called it that. Since there was no public Internet when we started, we didn’t call it the IoT, but it was based on the same concept: Integration of very large amounts of data to achieve better decision-making.

Those of us who have long labored in this field know that wringing value from the IoT involves significant challenges, which some industries may not overcome. The IoT’s maturation process will therefore be checkered and evolutionary – more like the prolonged development of the Industrial Revolution than the introduction of a new killer app.