Summit 7 Team Blogs

Most Confusing Tech Phrase of the Year: ‘Internet of Things’

Dear 2014, thanks for heading on your merry way. To ensure you’ve totally checked out, there are a few things we’d like to ensure were tucked safely in your bags:

5. Anything and everything related to Justin Bieber
4. Use of the term “bae”
3. “Polar Vortex”
2. “Conscious Uncoupling” (thank you Gwyneth and Chris)
1. The year’s worst technology phrase – ‘Internet of Things’

As technology industry professionals, we often make the mistake of thinking we understand what words mean – until we find ourselves conversing with anyone under the age of 25. If you understand the contextual usage and meaning of: bae, al desko, LOLcat, humblebrag, mamil, hawt, gucci, blast, yolo, chillax, and swag, you may be the parent of teenagers. (If you know the cultural definitions of these terms and are not the parent of teenagers, you might want to consider upgrading your social circles. Or start hangin’ w/me. Just sayin’ yo.)

While understanding dialogue with millennials may require an urban dictionary, perhaps more disturbing may be encountering biz blab in the workplace. Many of us have buzzword pet peeves. Maybe we don’t like a term or phrase because it’s overused, or used by someone we don’t respect, or it’s used incorrectly.

Inigo_MontoyaRegardless of why we don’t like them, there seems to be consensus regarding the year’s biggest (new and repeat) offenders: cloud, Web 2.0/3.0, state of the art, cutting edge/bleeding edge, next generation/third generation, world class, seamless integration, turnkey solution, low-hanging fruit, 360 degrees, 30,000-foot view, social business, uber, dynamic, viral, innovation, collaboration, reinvention, disruption, convergence, stakeholder, integration, synergistic, sustainable, messaging, and influencer.

As annoying as these may be, by far, the most disturbing nonsensical jargon to date has to be “The Internet of Things.”

First used in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Auto-ID Center, in 1999, The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. And therein lies the rub. Anyone have any clue as to what that means? Exactly.

So let’s break this down. Simply put, IoT represents the interaction between objects with a digital pulse. However, companies like Cisco take a more futuristic approach to IoT. When objects on a network include embedded technology that allows them to communicate, they are able to interact both internally and externally. The ability for these grouped objects to “sense” by sharing information and data results in new ‘intelligence’ or knowledge, which changes how decisions are made and by whom -- or by what.

Cisco is actively recruiting partners to help them address the IoT market opportunity – which they believe to be in excess of $14 trillion. Trillion. Not a typo. It’s hard to wrap your head around billions of dollars of opportunity, much less multiples of trillions. Where does one begin to make investments when the IoT opportunity is so broad?


What’s the alternative? From our perspective, a narrower scope that allows for greater clarity in strategy, investments, and measurable outcomes is required for IoT to be anything more than a catchall buzz phrase. In an age of information overload, shouldn’t communication be clear and concise? Why use terminology that confuses rather than enlightens? Want to know more about The Internet of Things? Try googling it. You’ll find more than 15 definitions – the best of which is from InfoWorld and requires more than 1,200 words to define it. #clearasmud

So please, 2014, take this “thing about a thing” phrase with you as you bid adieu… we have our hands full with Bieber. YOLO.


About Dane Moorefield