Internet of Things or Analytics?

By Edson Perin

Differentiating one from the other can help companies understand how to build a true RFID strategy that delivers business results.


I would like to ask you a question, dear reader: What does the Internet of Things have to do with analytics? If you answered “everything,” you got it right. But if you answered “nothing,” you were also correct. Curious? Let me explain.

In recent years, we have heard about the IoT all the time. Almost every IT provider has claimed that it has something for the Internet of Things. It’s partially true, but these companies do not always have specific tools for the IoT.

To understand what I mean, you need to know that the term “Internet of Things” was created in 1999 by Kevin Ashton of MIT, when he developed a radio frequency identification system to track Walmart products. The term was how Ashton expressed his vision about the future: “Things will communicate with IT systems automatically, without the need for human beings,” he imagined. So the IoT has to do with an automatic way of harvesting real-world information and converting it into data to be processed by computers.

Imagine a thermometer, for example. If you have to read one and then manually fill in a field on a computer, this is not the Internet of Things. But if the computer receives this information automatically via RFID, then voilà! It’s the IoT.

A lot of vendors that offer tools to process data—and nothing more—have begun to claims this is the Internet of Things. Of course, analyzing the data and transforming information into knowledge is what is expected from the IoT—but it’s a second step. Differentiating the IoT from analytics can help companies understand how to devise a true RFID strategy that delivers business results.

Remember, dear reader, the IoT has to do with extracting data from the real world. Analytics is the second step, which transforms information into knowledge.

Edson Perin is the editor of RFID Journal Brazil and the founder of Netpress Editora.