The Other "I" in IoT
We’ve all heard of the advertising slogan, “Pork, the Other White Meat“. Well, in the Internet of Things, we have the other “I" in IoT.
When we see, hear and mention IoT, we immediately think the “I” refers to the Internet and rightly so, it does. However, there is another “I” that gets lost in all the jargon. This “I” sits quietly behind the scenes in a true IoT environment and is equally as important and deserves its place in the spotlight.
So what is it? Interoperability. Interoperability is a major contributor to the difference of “being on the Internet to being the Internet of Things”. While we can connect all sorts of devices to the Internet, it does not make them the Internet of Things.
The concept of interoperability is simple; it’s the ability for devices, equipment, sensors and applications regardless if they are made by the same manufacturer or made by different manufacturers to connect and work together to translate and exchange data that resides within them across different boundaries and stakeholders. When I am asked to give an example of interoperability, perhaps one of the best examples are phones. It doesn’t matter what company makes the phone or whether the call is placed through a wireless or a landline connection or through what carrier or where you call from, you can call and connect to any phone.
Applied to IoT, that same ability for devices and equipment to communicate with each other and exchange information efficiently, regardless of manufacturer is fundamental to IoT. It is not about the number of devices or connectivity; it’s the value and outcomes that pushes IoT driven by the interoperability of related connected systems, devices, people and things. IoT success comes to those who derive the most value from interoperability — not those who simply connect the most devices to their networks.
While the world continues to see IoT primarily in terms of connections, it’s the transformational value of IoT with interoperability that really matters. Interoperability should be an integral part of any IoT design. Interoperability enables the full potential and outcomes of IoT.