Strata Week: The power of the Internet, wielded by machines and things

Jon Bruner's industrial Internet report; IBM, Belkin, and the Internet of Things; cars as software platforms; and coding is the job of the future.

Soon, everything will be an Internet platform

Ben Schiller at Fast Company took a look this week at a recent report by Jon Bruner on the industrial Internet. “According to Jon Bruner [the industrial Internet] is ‘machines becoming nodes on pervasive networks that use open protocols,’” writes Schiller. “And, to many others, it is as a big a deal as the Internet itself: essentially completing a job that’s only half-finished with web sites, email, Twitter, and so on.”

Shiller pulls some highlights from Bruner’s report, especially noting how the industrial Internet will effect various industries, such as energy, health care, and transport. He also notes the effect it will have on the automotive industry:

“Bruner says ‘the car in the era of the industrial Internet will be a platform — an environment that links software to the car’s physical machinery, that understands conditions outside the car, and that serves as a safe interface to the driver.’ Vehicles will have greater ‘contextual awareness’ (for other road users, for example), and become more service-oriented. Instead of hardware replacements, cars will be upgraded with software (for example, their entertainment systems).”

You can read Shiller’s full report at Fast Company and download Bruner’s report at O’Reilly.com.

In related news, IBM announced a new appliance called MessageSight that, according to the press release, will “help organizations manage and communicate with the billions of mobile devices and sensors found in systems such as automobiles, traffic management systems, smart buildings and household appliances.” Ricardo Bilton reports at VentureBeat that the new appliance is built on Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) technology — a “lightweight, low-bandwidth portico being pushed by companies like IBM, Cisco and Red Hat” — that’s already in use in medical devices. IBM’s vision is to expand MQTT’s Internet of Things applications, he says.

Belkin has its eye on the Internet of Things as well. This week, the company announced a new sensor technology system for buildings called Echo that, according to the press release, will help companies reduce waste in their buildings by monitoring and analyzing water, electricity and natural gas use.

Stacey Higginbotham reports at GigaOm that Belkin has a pilot project with the Department of Defense related to the sensor technology system. She notes that “the real power for these sensors — the algorithms, data and insights they produce — is linking them to other gadgets, perhaps enabling a true demand-response system between a customer and utility or even helping a homeowner set devices to react to the cost of power.” Kevin Ashton, the general manager of global product management for Belkin Business, told Higginbotham that he realizes the potential and noted that he’s a proponent of open standards. “We hope to let the magic happen with well implemented open standards,” he said. “The value in this system may be in places we don’t expect.”

The car as a user interface

Reporting on IBM’s Impact conference this week, Joe McKendrick highlights the overarching theme of the event, that the growing necessity of companies to embrace mobile, social big data, and the cloud is turning all sorts of companies from all sorts of industries into digital enterprises. The Ford Motor company provided a good example at the conference, McKendrick reports.

Vijay Sanakaran, director of application development for Ford, noted in a talk at the show that Ford doesn’t view itself as a car manufacturer any longer — it’s now a software company. McKendrick writes that Sanakaran pointed out in his talk that “the latest Ford Fusion model has 16 million lines of code, and most cars produced today have 70 microprocessors connected to hundreds of sensors and actuators that have thousands of multiplexer signals.”

McKendrick also noted that Sanakaran identified Ford’s mission as designing to deliver “a mobile digital lifestyle,” and quoted from Sanakaran’s talk: “If you think about the technology [of the automobile] as a user interface, it changes how we think about all the new product design and features … software has just been a huge change for us.”

Coding is the new literacy

If you want to work in 2020 and beyond, you’re going to have to know how to code, says Mashable’s Adam Popescu. He says for those of us already out of school and in the job market, there are two basic ways to learn: specialized education programs or learning to code on your own.

For his report, Popescu talked with several people in various areas of the tech industry who stressed the importance of learning to code and suggested various starting points for beginners, from HTML and CSS to basic SQL — education startup Treehouse was suggested as a beginner learning platform for its instructional videos. GonnaBe’s CEO and cofounder Hank Leber told Popescu that not learning to code has been his “biggest misstep” so far and called coding “the new literacy.” “Had I learned [to code] when I was in my early twenties, I’d have been 10 times as effective as a leader and businessperson,” he said. “Hindsight is 20/20, but let this be foresight for young people: If you can stomach it, learn to code. You won’t regret it.”

In related news, VentureBeat’s Christina Farr took a look at a new trend in hiring programmers: calling an agent. Farr highlights San Francisco agency 10x Management, one of the first Hollywood-style agencies in the business of finding technology talent. “The agency carefully vets its engineers and designers,” Farr writes, “and it connects them with high-paying, short-term opportunities at The White House as well as companies like Google and Mozilla.” 10x Management co-founder Altay Guvench told Farr he was inspired to start the company after realizing that becoming a freelance programmer dramatically improved his lifestyle. You can read her full report at VentureBeat.

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