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How the world wide web gave birth to the internet of things

13 May 2019

Article by Commvault A/NZ vice president Rob Malkin

The World Wide Web recently turned 30 – an apt time to reminisce about the incredible impact Sir Tim Berners-Lee has had on the world beyond the World Wide Web. With what was originally a humble flowchart, underpinned by the concept of information management, Berners-Lee’s vision unexpectedly evolved into an explosion of data, paving the foundation of today’s connected world and making it easier for people around the globe to more openly and freely share information and ideas. 

This proliferation of data is not a new trend, but one that continues to challenge enterprises in a positive way. Thanks to Sir Tim’s creation, the data created by internet users now presents a multitude of opportunities for brands to secure greater insights into their customers’ behaviour and preferences. However, businesses will only be in a position to use this data if they ensure they have the resources to discover, index, protect and comprehensively manage it.

From the internet to the internet of things (IoT)

The amount of data we create every day is truly mind-boggling. Last year, Forbes forecasted 2.5 quintillion bytes of data would be created each day if we continued at our current pace, and that is in large part due to the real-life application of the IoT over the last five years or so. 

While estimates on the numbers of smart, connected devices may vary, it’s universally recognised that each year we can expect tens of millions of new connected devices accessing the internet on a daily (and often more frequent basis). During the 90s and early 2000s the internet forced organisations all over the globe to change the ways they operated and approached business decisions, so too is the IoT today.

Now, for maybe the first time, businesses don’t just have information at their disposal. Rather, they have near real-time insight, to engage their customers and battle their competitors in ways they never previously could.

For example, Australian manufacturers are using the IoT to provide real-time information by tracking materials, equipment and products through every step of the supply chain journey. Aussie businesses including North Queensland agronomic solutions provider, Farmacist, and agtech start-up, Ceres Tag, are deploying IoT sensors to track the location, well-being and activity of their livestock. Calf alert devices and tracking sensors are one of many ways Australian farmers are more effectively keeping tabs on herds that sprawl across vast expanses of ranch and farmland. 

It is already estimated that manufacturers will spend $97.55 billion ($AUD) on the IoT in 2020, with the global smart agriculture market size expected to triple by 2025, reaching $15.3 billion (compared to just over $5 billion back in 2016).

However, as the number of endpoints sourcing, creating and using data increases, so too does the interdependence and importance of managing this data effectively and safely.

Upholding the vision 

Back in Sir Tim’s days at CERN, the concept of ‘big data,’ as we regard it today and its associated challenges, simply did not exist. His ‘Information Management’ brainchild, and blueprint for more technological development opportunities than he could ever have imagined, has changed industry and the world as we know it forever. 

The passing of the torch is in motion, and it is up to IT and business decision makers to harness its potential and spark change in industry, while we adapt our behaviours and practices around the technology we rely so heavily on to keep our information safe.

Thankfully, Sir Tim provided IT professionals around the globe with the sturdy foundations necessary to build some of the most impactful and innovative technologies we’re likely to bear witness to in the digital age – most recently, the IoT and its myriad of practical uses. 

As we stand on the brink of what could be argues is the next great wave of industrialisation with the IoT, it is unquestionably our responsibility as custodians of this new data driven paradigm (not to mention Sir Tim’s original ground-breaking discovery), to ensure that his vision of information management is continued in the purest, most effective and safest way possible.

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