I subscribe to the Boston Business Journal and have for years.  A few weeks ago, one of the articles screamed in 22 pt. type “Internet of Things market will be the size of Canada’s GDP by 2020”.  I said to myself, “Holy crap, this is crazy!!”  Then I decided to look further into this apparent hype.  Here is what I found.

Hype is good; over-hype is bad

Hype is good for a new or emerging technology. It creates interest and starts people thinking about how they can take advantage of the next shiny object.  And may even drive investments.  However, once the hype goes ballistic, it starts to create unattainable expectations, which distort investments and business plans. And plants the seeds for future customer dissatisfaction.  We are getting close to that point now.

Here is evidence of over-hype from Google

Google is always the first place to look when looking at numbers and trends.  The first thing I looked at was the trending of searches for Internet of Things (IoT).   Here is the graph:

The 1 and 100 show the relative number of searches.  The number increased by almost 100X since 2013!

The second fact I looked at on Google was the number of web pages that contained the term Internet of Things and compared that to a few other popular or common topics:

I chose Sex because I think it is the most popular search and Sliced Bread because in America we say, “That’s better than sliced bread” when something is really good.  I find it interesting that IoT is mentioned on more web pages that Apple Watch (just before it hit the stores!)

And here is evidence from Gartner and Pew Research

First, Gartner has a generic hype curve, which clearly shows the five stages of hype that a new technology, product, or idea usually experiences.  Here it is:

While this is interesting, and you can guess where IoT lands, the real answer is in this picture from Pew Research:

Note that IoT is at the highest point on this chart!

Why should we care?

If you are now or planning to be involved in IoT implementation, sales, or support, then you must be sensitive to what is happening in the media.  It is much too easy to make grandiose pronouncements about the future.  Remember that you will be adding to a huge collection of other media babble. And if you are one of the people writing or talking about IoT, you had better be in it for the long haul and so will be partially responsible for creating experiences, which exceed expectations!

In spite of all this hype, I still believe the Internet of Things offers one of our greatest current opportunities to create value for our customers and our stakeholders.