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The Internet of Things (IoT) is a myth, legend, buzzword, Microsoft misfire (Intelligent Systems, anyone?), market disruptor, as well as an elusive term that many are trying to corral into some microcosm of sustainable profitability in an emerging market.

Any new product that features something remotely relatable to wireless connectivity and communication attempts to shoehorn IoT into its fanciful product description. According to multiple industry sources, IoT barely extends beyond pipe dream without security and communications standards, infrastructure, and, most notably, a pioneering company to take the lead.

I recently took a trip down to Phoenix, AZ where I had a chance to meet Jim Beneke, Avnet Electronics Marketing (AEM) VP of Global Technical Marketing. Beneke describes IoT as a new Wild West reminiscent of the microprocessor boom in the 1980s.

Microprocessors issued in an excitement over an impending new era of innovation, but while tinkerers tinkered and start-ups stumbled, the industry remained in Limbo until companies such as Intel and Microsoft took the lead, then the market share, followed by a good run of overall global dominance.

In 2010, 12.5 billion devices connected individuals to something. According to Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, that number will reach 25 billion by 2015, and 50 billion by 2020, forcing existing companies to realize IoT as both a threat and an opportunity.

In a recent episode of Engineering Live: Internet of Things (ecnmag.com/IoT), a panel of industry experts discussed how the IoT marketplace is not necessarily a new space, but one in which companies of all shapes and sizes still have an opportunity to make a big play and become the bar to which everyone is compared. IoT represents a collective confusing excitement that I haven’t witnessed in the design engineering space in some time, and I find it refreshing. It’s not often that I find myself at a table of engineers who all offer opinion and excitement without a defined execution strategy.

Adding to Cisco’s forecast, Alex Iuorio, Senior VP of Supplier Business Development at AEM predicts that by 2025, one trillion “somethings” will be connected to the internet. Now that is opportunity if I’ve ever heard it defined. Particularly when, as Iuorio adds, only 50% of the global population is connected to 98.8% of IoT devices.

How do you define IoT? Do you have a solution? An opposing opinion? Comment below or email david.mantey@advantagemedia.com.

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