A recent posting on CNET reports that standards related to support of the Internet of Things (IoT) has now become a lot more complicated.

The potential benefits of IoT is rather broad and today comes with significant technology vendor hype cycles.   Numbers such as 20, 50 100 million connected devices are quoted based on the most favorable market research numbers a vendor can find.  There is added confusion related to IoT associated with consumer devices such as appliances, thermostats and wired homes vs. industrial networks of sensors and other equipment.

A handful of tech heavyweights, namely Intel, Broadcom, Dell and Samsung Electronics recently unveiled a new non-profit termed Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) with a mission to come-up with certification standards for devices operating in an IoT environment. This announcement comes after a December announcement from nonprofit Linux Foundation in conjunction with names such as Microsoft, Panasonic, Qualcomm and others that calls for the AllSeen Alliance to come up with a similar goal.

Both consortiums rightfully communicate that wider adoption of the benefits of IoT cannot be gained without common standards among technology providers.  However, many of these vendors have different goals related to how they will strategically leverage this new market in longer-term business plans. One example could be Qualcomm, which has garnered significant influence and revenues pegged on its mobile phone related proprietary technologies.

For our supply chain and B2B business network focused readers, these tech dynamics will sound quite familiar. They are very similar to the dynamics that occurred in the hype cycle of RFID enabled item-tracking as vendors jockeyed around various standards development initiatives, each with different strategic agendas.  The end-result is one that we are very familiar with, the true business benefits of RFID and item-level tracking was stalled because multiple debates and conflicting standards approaches confused many technology implementation teams, making the technology choice too risky and too expensive.

In the early days of RFID this author wrote some guest columns in RFID Journal. In January of 2006 this author penned the following opinion:

As for RFID, over the next two to three years, the industry standards for automatic identification and product information transfer will mature. Generation2 standards and the decreasing cost of individual tags will facilitate the ROI thresholds required to justify RFID as a transformational enabler of accurate, timely supply chain business intelligence. But RFID can and should be used alongside other traditional sensing technologies. Taking a sensory network platform view that includes all the available and/or appropriate technologies to enable more responsive and accurate supply chain business intelligence is a path to meaningful ROI.”

I along with other industry analysts obviously miscalculated on the real effort in coming up with common technology standards and subsequent attractive cost of infrastructure. Too many vendors became consumed with individual interests and we as analysts were too vested in technology vendor hype.

I now pose this question for open Supply Chain Matters reader comments: Is the current path of multiple IoT standards-based consortiums a replay of history?

Discuss among yourselves and share your views in the Comments block.

Bob Ferrari