What is the "Internet of Things?"

The term “Internet of Things” was first documented by a British expert on digital innovation, Kevin Ashton, in 1999. 

Rather than thinking about being connected through computers, tablets and smartphones, IoT contemplates a system in which anything can connect and communicate intelligently. In other words, IoT is an environment in which the physical world smartly collides with data and information. The concept has been enabled by the conflux of wireless sensor networks, automation, control systems, and embedded systems, among others.


In an effort to better understand IoT, below are several definitions:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices. (Technopedia)
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment. (Gartner)
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. (Wikipedia)


  • There are more than 10 billion wirelessly connected devices in the market today; with over 30 billion devices expected by 2020. (ABIresearch)
  • In 2008, there were already more "things" connected to the Internet than people. By 2020, the amount of Internet-connected things will reach 50 billion, with $19trillion in profits and cost savings coming from IoT over the next decade. (Cisco Systems on The Motley Fool)
  • The Internet of Things (IoT), which excludes PCs, tablets and smartphones, will grow to 26 billion units installed in 2020 representing an almost 30-fold increase from 0.9 billion in 2009. (Gartner)


  • Security concerns will be paramount for consumers as application areas for Internet connected automation expand.
  • Data aggregation across disparate locations and devices due to the IoT will further fuel the focus on how to index, store and process information at scale.
  • Real time decision-making based on data-driven insights will occur quickly as information technology and operational technology converge.
Mark Hewitt