IoT is dead. Long live IoT!

I can confidently say that IoT is dead on arrival. And it almost always has been.

Especially, when it comes to building automation.

Having recently been speaking about Building Automation and IoT at a Smart Building conference in Barcelona I can confidently say that IoT is dead on arrival. And it almost always has been. Especially, when it comes to building automation.

If you want to dig deeper into what is written here so far, I recommend these articles to get some context.

  • How can we create value together?
  • Why faster time to value creation?
  • Benefits Realization with Digital Twins

You have 1001 alarms and flags in your system

There were two major events that made me realize that the whole IoT movement has not been working well during the last decade.

1.      We have access to more information each day on the actual internet but it is not guaranteed to enable people get insights, and take action on anything else they already are doing. And the access to data, and possibly information is not a receipt for making people smarter. Just getting stuff to the “internet” or connected doesn’t seem to cut it. And who says that it’s reliable or not on its own?

2.      Alarms. All systems have them. And all technicians have turned off notifications once or twice or in the hundreds. Just by getting stuff connected, and monitored doesn’t mean that problems get solved, especially when context is missing, and the information gets stuck in a dashboard.

The world exists in silos and domains and most people, and companies tend to operate in the same domain they always have been. Which is not bad on its own. But from a holistic perspective it’s not necessarily great since we have a lot of challenges communicating across domains. From a people perspective and from a system perspective.

Text Box: i. The need for interdisciplinary communication and understandable sociotechnological dialogue, IoT Congress, Barcelona


The challenges with realizing BIG Impact from BIG Data

There’s been promises and promises. Bullish numbers about the billions of IoT sensors that should have been out there by now. The bankruptcy of Sigfox, lost packages of star networks and several LPWan tech which is not bi-directional, nor real-time enough. However we also have interesting LoRaWAN deployments at scale and the Things Network creating some global movements.

And even though great things are happening with Telco tech such as CAT-M1, NB-IoT, 5G, Network slicing or anything else related to the actual technology aspects. It doesn’t matter much if we don’t get the impact we need. Because guess what, it’s not (only) about the technology. At least it shouldn’t be that much. It is about…the Impact we can get from utilizing modern tools in the right order. Together with people, and possibly advanced analytics.


However, today most companies are starting off with the wrong end. It’s not about the holistic impact that we need. It’s not even the silo-intended impact that we start with all the time.

Today the impact of Internet of Things fail to materialize because of a failed understand on how to translate data into impact across domains, and at scale.

Where people are using IoT to get more data and try to use dashboards and siloed interfaces to turn data to information. However, the insight that is being created is often not easily translated into insight for other domains. Which means that it jumps back to the being purely data seen from another domain’s perspective. Not leading to insight, nor leading to action or the impact needed.

Crossing the chasm with the Impact to Data loop


What if we start with the Impact first and then work our way back? This is nothing new and is part of the 5 WHY’s that Toyota introduced. And also at the core of the Benefits realization framework which I have written about before.

But maybe we could illustrate it in a way that is also tied to the Data to Impact loop?

And just by putting this in writing I changed the order and also the name to align with what I mean. I have been calling it the Data to Impact loop for years now. But I will start to refer to it more as a circular model and as a Impact to Data loop. What if we started with the impact we need, across all domains. And then work back in understand the actions we need to take. Asking a series of questions:

1.      What is the impact we are after?
For most private companies, as well as public this is written in a strategic document depicting their five year plan. Or the simplest way of looking at it, save money, make more money, find new revenue streams. And today also aligning with the Triple Bottom Line where ESG reporting, sustainable ways of working is a must for people, wallet, and planet.

2.      What are the action(s) we need to take to get there and whom do we need to involve?

3.      In order to get to action, what insight do the stakeholders need in order to take necessary action?

4.      Where is the information today, and how can it be turned into insight in one domain, as well as across domains?

5.      Do we have the data today, and how can we turn it into information in one domain, as well as across any domain that also can pass the test of time?

And how do we get all of this done as fast as possible? Preferably using modern tools to help us in understanding the impact decisions will have ahead of time. So that we can ask a data fabric of what the best course of action will be, and for it to tell us that these steps are the way to go. And that the information can be communicated across domains at the speed of latency.

Where the data necessary is followed by a Digital Thread across to the Impact that we need.

Back to the Future focusing on the Impact of Things (and people)

That’s why I believe we need to go back to the future and assess the impact we are after from a holistic perspective. To not only stare at the energy savings but take into account the whole lifecycle, the building itself, and all of its stakeholders. Not necessarily to be responsible for everything, but understanding that the data and information in one vertical desperately needs to be turned into insight for others. And those others can be other systems, and other people that spans different ages as well as location on a global scale.

The building automation industry is starting to become more and more connected. But it’s still not democratized and for many it is not the easiest to go in and create value for others. We have the tools to create robust, useful, and attractive buildings for all. And by leveraging the tools and technologies in the BB-cycle, with the right processes and people, we can create impact exponentially faster, and more sustainable than any time in history.


But if nothing gets changed, nothing will change. It’s as simple as that. And if you want to change before you must, feel free to reach out!

How do I know all of this? Because it’s my job to know what the future will do in a week, a month, a year from now. And if you want to create the future before everyone else? Reach out to me and we’ll make it happen!


Nicolas Waern
CEO, Founder and Digital Twin Specialist at WINNIIO Consulting

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