When people discuss the Internet of Things (IoT), you often hear them talk about the doomsday aspect of being hacked. I understand their concerns but prefer to see the way my life has become exponentially better with my connected devices. I took a quick inventory—I currently have 44 IoT devices in my house. I was shocked at the number, I thought maybe I had 10—a dozen at most, but when I started counting I quickly realized I had many more. I started with the obvious ones: Amazon Echo (Alexa), three Nest thermostats, three Nest security cameras, six computers—wow, I got to 13 quickly. When I started to really think about it though, I realized I have many more. I also have Alexa-controlled lighting, a web enabled garage door, a Tesla, three televisions, two Apple TVs, three Fitbits, a Fitbit synched scale (Aria), a Sonos system, an Amazon Echo Dot, three iPads, two tablets, three Kindles, five cell phones and even a smart meter for my daughter’s Type 1 Diabetes glucose monitoring and insulin system, and the list goes on. I am waiting for my Spinn coffee maker to come (that will reorder beans when I am low and which I can control from an app while still in bed), and already have four Amazon buttons that reorder everything from laundry detergent to paper towels to dishwashing liquid and cat food. Oh, and how about my ADT security system? Wow…I am overwhelmed by how many ways my life is connected to the internet, and I suspect that I’m forgetting some of my devices.
On the other hand, although my inventory was larger than I even imagined, my life is exponentially easier with all my connected devices. I know that every one of these has the potential to be hacked, but we use a secure network and I buy from reputable companies. Do I worry about the amount of data people are gathering about my family? Not really. Will they surmise that I have two cats from the amount of cat food I buy? They might...but so what? On the other hand, I don’t want them hacking into my cameras and learning our patterns for being home and away or getting a clear picture of what my children look like.
Yet, I don’t think we are collectively seeing the bigger picture about the benefits we will gain by having sensors and smart devices. The Internet of Things is really about the number of sensors and smart devices and the machine-to-machine communication that is enabled, which is huge when we think about where the future will take us. The sensors that are within these devices are not the same as the devices themselves. They analyze, learn and communicate, and although they don’t actually perform work, they can reduce work. When my detergent sensor button is pushed, that button is merely sending a signal to Amazon to reorder. It isn’t a machine in the same sense of the word. It collects and shares data …which would be useless if we didn’t have the infrastructure to do something with that information.
So now think about the smart diabetes meter and how this might help find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes? These meters are monitoring hundreds of thousands of individuals in real-time and sending that data anonymously to researchers. AI companies are using machine learning to interpret this data and test theories in a controlled environment, which helps them find better ways to treat and hopefully, someday cure diabetes. I recently heard Marene Allison, J&J’s VP and Chief Information Security Officer, speak about their duty of care for consumer devices. Not long ago, J&J centralized security for 3rd party risk management and created a Center of Excellence, and at that time felt comfortable with their data, including where it was housed and how secure it was. But they soon realized they had no idea how many devices they had deployed and how vulnerable those devices made them, so they created an Event/Action page for people—internal and external—to report possible vulnerabilities. Using that system, a doctor identified a diabetes meter that was hackable, enabling J&J to quickly create a patch for it, develop a communication action program and inform people about how to protect themselves. Through pure transparency they put patient care ahead of a possible marketing debacle and the results were amazing. The street appreciated their transparency and instead of making a marketing faux pas, according to Allison they were seen as heroes.
So while I realize that all my connected devices may eventually gang up against me, I still see the positive side of the IoT and not the negative. I just received the Alexa Wand, so now my device can scan anything I need to replace and place it in my shopping cart….and if I’m feeling lazy, I can just speak into it and put it in my cart. Hmmm, I wonder if it is also listening to my conversations. Oh well, I’ll worry about that later, because I’ve got my rose-colored glasses on and love the convenience of the Internet of Things.
Dawn Tiura is the CEO and President of SIG, SIG University and Outsource and has over 26 years leadership experience, with the past 22 years focused on the sourcing and outsourcing industry. In 2007, Dawn joined SIG as CEO, but has been active in SIG as a speaker and trusted advisor since 1999, bringing the latest developments in sourcing and outsourcing to SIG members. Prior to joining SIG, Dawn held leadership positions as CEO of Denali Group and before that as a partner in a CPA firm. Dawn is actively involved on a number of boards promoting civic, health and children's issues in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Dawn is a licensed CPA and has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MS in taxation from Golden Gate University. Dawn brings to SIG a culture of brainstorming and internal innovation.