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Is Internet of Things Really Internet of Agents? | Part 1

There is actually more value in services related to those connected things than in the things themselves

Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and the resulting Internet of Things are leading us inexorably toward everything-as-a-service (XaaS). As more things get connected, the range of service opportunities expands. And as those services are presented online, they become available for use, re-use and re-purposing.

At first thought, the idea of more connected devices suggests simply that there will be more devices around, and as such, more products for manufacturers to make and sell. That's true, but as I suggested in an earlier blog, even the manufacturers will realize that there is actually more value in services related to those connected things than in the things themselves.

To understand the rich potential of this evolution, we perhaps need to move beyond the original concept of the Internet of Things. The original idea was formally to have "things" as sensing devices. That's fair enough, and it's a worthwhile topic in itself. The ability of "things" to sense their environment and report on it is immensely useful. But we now realize that "things" can also report on their own status, as well as tell us what they are doing and plan to do, which adds another layer of richness to the mix. And if "things" can also be any connected agency (human or automaton) that can perform actions for us on request, that broadens the notion even more.

I think I'll start talking about the Internet of Agents, using the word "agent" perhaps more broadly than is typically done in IT circles. For me, agents include all connected things, systems and people who can provide information to other things, systems and people and initiate actions for each other.

Agents provide services to people and to each other.

The Internet of Agents is deeply intertwined with the concept of XaaS. These are not just academic concepts. They're here, and they're evolving and growing. The following are some simple examples of online services that have evolved from what used to be products.

Music and movies are increasingly offered as services, not products. We pay for streaming and we're done - no CD or DVD to put on the shelf. We own nothing. If we want to listen to the track or watch the movie again, we stream it again. Even downloads are essentially services, with service fees. Customers pay for the ability to consume the material at will, but in most cases, they don't own the actual product. Now, when I want to watch a specific movie, I don't have to visit each online service in turn to search for it. I ask one agent where I can find that movie, and then I ask the relevant streaming agent to send it to me. (Soon those two steps will be one, I'm sure.)

In Part 2, I will discuss some other applications resulting from the Internet of Agents, as well as how these agents are allowing for more complex services within the XaaS economy.

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is CMO of MetraTech. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda is responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution, product marketing, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. Esmeralda was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of OSS software, now part of Extreme Networks (Nasdaq:EXTR). At Avici Systems (Nasdaq:AVCI), Esmeralda was Vice President of Marketing for the networking pioneer from startup through its successful IPO. Early in her career, she was a Director at IDC, where she led the network consulting practice and worked with startup and leading software and hardware companies, and Wall Street clients on product and market strategies. Esmeralda holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Marketing and International Business from Northeastern University.

You can view her other blogs at www.metratech.com/blog.

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