The IoT will make sensors like this one, designed to monitor for heart failure, the norm

The IoT will make sensors like this one, designed to monitor for heart failure, the norm Intel Free Press

The Internet of Things Reaches Peak Hype

Are federal agencies being realistic about the promise and perils of the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) -- the tangled, immersive, and invisible web of cloud-enabled computing capabilities, built through the proliferation of sensors, mobile devices, intelligent infrastructure, and massive data centers -- has been touted as the most revolutionary technological innovation of the early twenty-first century. Experts predict IoT will likely disrupt the way we do business, the way we stay healthy, as well as the way we interact with government.

But many find themselves scratching their heads wondering, “How much of that is true and how much is just hype?”

This month, the technology research firm Gartner released the twentieth anniversary of its “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” report, tracking the market maturity of roughly four dozen high-profile technologies.

Gartner experts (as well as many surveyed as part of Pew’s “Digital Life in 2025” report) believe the Internet of Things is currently at peak hype. As a result, federal leaders should be cautious about forming unrealistic expectations regarding both the promise and the perils of IoT until the industry has had more time to mature.

According to Gartner, any emerging technology with the potential for market disruption begins in the “technology trigger” stage, during which industry experts, early adopters, and media outlets latch on to proof-of-concept stories despite the relative lack of commercially-viable products. Throughout this stage, high hopes build as the product receives more and more publicity and high-profile early success stories largely overshadow failures as the technology reaches its “peak of inflated expectations.”

Over the last half-decade, experts have proclaimed that IoT could revolutionize human social life in a myriad of ways -- from wearable sensors that track our heart rate and blood pressure, to “intelligent manufacturing” using autonomously-communicating systems to coordinate production and inform stakeholders, to microchips in milk cartons to tell us when it’s gone sour.

But after months or years of sky-high expectations, it’s almost inevitable that over time some early proponents will become disillusioned, say, after a leading firm fails to scale a promising prototype or once the true scope of a technology’s negative societal externalities becomes more readily apparent. At this point, the technology reaches the “trough of disillusionment.”

Sources seem to indicate that this is where IoT is heading next.

The global interconnectedness promised by the Internet of Things is both its blessing and its curse. With more and more vital systems becoming linked to the grid -- everything from pacemakers to nuclear power plants -- IoT makes our world increasingly hackable. The very fact that cyber criminals were able to exploit a defect in Target’s HVAC system to gain access to 40 million consumers’ financial information should warrant caution. Federal agencies are already spending billions to address the challenge of IoT-proofing their critical systems and infrastructure and will spend countless more as security threats evolve.

Similarly, the IoT could, as many have suggested, eliminate privacy as we know it and make the world a much more Orwellian place. Perhaps most elegantly conceptualized in Philip K. Dick’s “Minority Report,” the world of the Internet of Things could become a place where one’s consumer preferences, movements, and very identity are tracked via subdermal microchip or retinal scan with significant costs to individual freedom.

Despite the hopes and fears surrounding the Internet of Things, its true potential will rest neither on the heights of initial expectations nor the depths of disillusionment, but instead on how innovators choose to develop it once expectations come back down to earth.

In the stage known as the “slope of enlightenment,” the technology’s true impact takes shape as one or more market-leading firms begins offering unique and valuable enterprise-ready applications that reflect a more realistic understanding of the technology’s strengths and limitations.

3-D printing is one such technology currently climbing the slope of enlightenment toward maturity in the enterprise space -- having overcome both inflated hopes of printable organs as well as equally-inflated fears of printable weapons.

At this stage in the game, it is largely unclear how the Internet of Things will take shape as a mature technology (in contrast to the current trend toward linking every seemingly mundane household object to the Internet) and how citizens and government entities will navigate the complex socio-political challenges that will inevitably arise.

But as was the case for countless technologies that came before, creative thinking and a healthy dose of skepticism have allowed innovators to transform the stuff of science fiction into more innocuous facets of everyday life.

To learn more about how the federal government is preparing for the IoT-enabled future, check out some of GBC’s recent work:

“Approaching DoD Audit Readiness Through Asset Visibility”

“Improving Mission Effectiveness Through Better Information”

“The Top 3 Challenges Limiting Mobility in the Federal Workplace”

“Achieving Holistic Federal Cybersecurity”

“Making Mobile Manageable: Secure Mobility for the Enterprise”

Disclaimer

This post is written by Government Business Council; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Government Executive Media Group's editorial staff. For more information, see our advertising guidelines.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.