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The Internet of Things and the high cost of old habits

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The Internet of Things and the high cost of old habits

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I simply needed a new alarm clock. I had gone years with my old model, regardless of its broken buttons and obnoxious alarm tone. It was what woke me up faithfully for over a decade, and who knew what might happen without it — late starts, rushed showers, missed flights? But when it was “lost” in the remodel, I had no choice.

An insomniac’s nightmare

I drove to my local Best Buy to see what technology had wrought in the past decade, only to find a very small section (on my own…no one seemed to know where it was) of the store with poorly labeled merchandise on haphazard display. One model even advertised that it played “your favorite CD.” My wife wryly smiled and asked, “What’s a CD?” I paused briefly over one with a feature that projects the time on a distant surface, asking myself how cool that would be, before realizing that on the occasional sleepless night, watching the minutes tick by on the ceiling is not a good thing.

But I resisted the allure of new plastic and wires and time projection on the ceiling, leaving the store without buying anything. You see, minutes into my shopping, I realized that my iPhone was an amazing portable, battery operated (not subject to power outages), familiar, reliable alarm clock. I could switch to Airplane Mode and avoid being woken up by the latest sale at Hugo Boss. The very fact that I didn’t realize this before leaving home is testament that I have a few more steps in my journey to let old technology habits die.

Old habits die hard

Which made me think about work and how many things we do simply because that’s we’ve done in the past. How many comfortable habits exist purely because we’re unjustifiably afraid of the chaos that might ensue if we change. How many alarm clocks are we shopping for because we think life will be risky without them? I came within a minute or two of buying a $50 alarm clock that might have solved an immediate perceived need without thinking too much about what was already available and even better at solving my problem. We’re entering a completely new place in history — one where even more of our everyday working world will be like that alarm clock, perceived as crucial but easily replaced by more modern technology that provides the same value and then some.

The Internet ushered in a new age of technology, but we’re just now starting to grasp the power that we have to replace the “alarm clocks.” We’re digitizing our world and with the Internet of Things (better known as the Internet of Everything), connecting everything with everything else. We can do more now with the data we already have and access more new data than ever before. We can make better and faster decisions than we could imagine a short time ago, but none of that matters if we’re stuck shopping for a new alarm clock in an iPhone age.

The Internet of Everything is a chance to rethink how make decisions, but even more, how those decisions will help us to better use resources, improve personal and national security, personalize products and services and a host of other things that create enormous value. To hear more, join our workshop at Interop in New York on Monday, September 29th. You’ll get to meet the leaders in the front of the change taking place and ask the questions that are hard to get answered anywhere else.

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