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Tony Shan

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From IoT to IoRT

A TechNavio report shows that the global market for Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to grow at a CAGR of 31.72% from 2014 to 2019. Are you prepared for this explosive growth?

IoT is the network of physical objects (devices, vehicles, buildings and other items) embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). There are also other variants like Internet of All Things, which expands IoT. Internet of Everything (IoE) and Internet of Anything (IoA) are a broad term that refers to devices and consumer products connected to the Internet and outfitted with expanded digital features. The trend is “Anything that can be connected, will be connected.” Now do we really want to have everything on the Internet?

There has been a notion of Internet of Broken Things. Internet of Useless Things, Bad Things, Stupid Things, and Ridiculous Things have created dumb designs. For example, there is a product called BeatTweeter, which is a wearable ring that provides the opportunity to share final thoughts with the beloved followers. The BeatTweeter will only tweet when it detects no heart beat: “My heart has just stopped. Goodbye to all my followers, I loved you all. #finalfarewell”.

Not everything needs to be connected. Not everything needs to be on the Internet at the same time. It makes more sense to connect only applicable things, leading to the new trend of Internet of Right Things (IoRT). The characterization of IoRT is differentiated in comparison with traditional IoT: Secure, Instantaneous, Granular, Manageable, Actionable, Containerized, Autonomic, and Relevant (SIGMA CAR).

  • Secure: The connected devices must be safeguarded for privacy. The connecting gateway also needs to be protected. The key vulnerabilities are well addressed, including web/cloud/mobile interface, authentication, authorization, transport encryption, configuration, and firmware.
  • Instantaneous: The response to the data requests is (near) real-time, with just-in-time processing, on-demand analysis, and fast event-driven data streaming.
  • Granular: The services are in different granularities: coarse-, medium-, and fine-grained microservices, which are discoverable and easy to integrate.
  • Manageable: The devices and embedded units are traceable, self-protected, erasable, and reconfigurable, with remote control and management capabilities.
  • Actionable: The insights are extracted to guide business to make sound decisions, which can be acted upon, to gain competitive advantages in the marketplace. The intelligence is discovered from the feedbacks.
  • Containerized: Containerization is a lightweight alternative to full machine virtualization that involves encapsulating an application in a container with its own operating environment. This provides standardized and portable deployment with interoperability.
  • Autonomic: The right things connected must be self-configurable and programmable, making the linked objects and cyber-physical systems automatic, autonomous and adaptive.
  • Relevant: Advanced analytics enable business to glean semantic information within the context and location, by distilling the meaning and hidden value behind the reams of data from different user situations and business scenarios.


It is imperative to do the right “things” at the right time in the right place with the right speed by the right people. This is essentially what IoRT is all about in the new era. We need to pay more attention to those things that fit the above characteristics. We should not link everything to electricity. Nor should we connect everything to Internet. Choose wisely, and we can drive IoT to the right direction.

For more information, please contact Tony Shan (blog@tonyshan.com). ©Tony Shan. All rights reserved.

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Tony Shan works as a senior consultant, advisor at a global applications and infrastructure solutions firm helping clients realize the greatest value from their IT. Shan is a renowned thought leader and technology visionary with a number of years of field experience and guru-level expertise on cloud computing, Big Data, Hadoop, NoSQL, social, mobile, SOA, BI, technology strategy, IT roadmapping, systems design, architecture engineering, portfolio rationalization, product development, asset management, strategic planning, process standardization, and Web 2.0. He has directed the lifecycle R&D and buildout of large-scale award-winning distributed systems on diverse platforms in Fortune 100 companies and public sector like IBM, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Honeywell, Abbott, etc.

Shan is an inventive expert with a proven track record of influential innovations such as Cloud Engineering. He has authored dozens of top-notch technical papers on next-generation technologies and over ten books that won multiple awards. He is a frequent keynote speaker and Chair/Panel/Advisor/Judge/Organizing Committee in prominent conferences/workshops, an editor/editorial advisory board member of IT research journals/books, and a founder of several user groups, forums, and centers of excellence (CoE).