Internet of People (IoP): The next frontier for IoT

With all the talk of the internet of things, it seems everyone is scrambling to jump on the IoT bandwagon. Companies are connecting products to the internet because they can. The question is: why do that if there is no additional value by being connected?

Taking it one step further, we are seeing a huge play for the “end all – be all” IoT cloud platform. Significant money, time and energy are being spent on IoT for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. While M2M communications is needed, I see the next big frontier of IoT as the Internet of People. Connecting people to the internet is crucial, as this amazing technical resource that has connected everyone and everyone’s things continues to evolve.

Let’s take a look at IoT today and how it is being used. Good examples of IoT solutions are smart home appliances such as home alarm systems, cable TV boxes (DVR) and smart home thermostats that can all be controlled by a mobile phone.

As you can see, there is great potential for IoT, and companies are racing to connect devices, gadgets, databases and applications. The internet has made it dramatically easier and ubiquitous for “things” to get connected. To enable these connections, there are dozens of companies creating IoT platforms.

What’s even more exciting is the next phase of IoT is what I’m calling the Internet of People, or IoP. The Internet of People focuses on personal information collection and has a wide range of applications. Through this connectivity of people and things, we see devices getting smarter — or perhaps you can even say people are getting smarter.

As part of the evolution of IoT/IoP, businesses are creating all types of analytical engines to understand what some once called big data. With the hope to inspire consumers to share more information and eventually make a purchase, IoP solutions will have access to more data and leverage a new level of data.

However, organizations are missing a very key element in their study of IoT/IoP data, and that is the human sentiment. Data is just data and it does not necessarily report or communicate a feeling. Even the best written email can be misunderstood. So how do you derive a feeling from data? How do you rate the importance of an event that is triggered from a sensor without the human sentiment?

For the first time in history, people are willing to put their lives online and communicate publicly (online) how they are feeling (e.g., Facebook, etc.). This data reflecting actual human sentiment is found in people’s social media usage/posts and their daily internet searches. The Holy Grail will be for those companies that can understand social media data and marry that with sensor data about human sentiment and to produce real-time actionable results.

With the right predictable analytics, companies will be able to gain a deeper understanding into consumer buying patterns and better understand what triggers a purchase. This combined data is not only useful for retailers, but also for healthcare and public safety too.

I anticipate we will all be hearing about the Internet of People more in the coming year. The key takeaway here is that IoP is not just more sensor data, but it is a learning process or a study of how people interact with sensor data.

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