#InternetOfEverything: three lessons from my gardener for #IoEForumIta

When some weeks ago I thought to dedicate some hours to the garden I found myself talking about Internet of Everything with my gardener. Although I didn’t convince him to buy a GPS for bovines or a sensors for the garden, our talk was for me more instructive than many others I had with experts in the field.

It was very instructive because I could recover the contact with the reality that often we lose when we talk with other “experts”. That dimension of reality linked with real problems and needs of people, which helps us understanding that if we wish innovation was useful we don’t have to close into self-referring dynamics and mechanism, but we need to open to the real world. It is true for digital in general, but more in particular when we talk about Internet of Everything. Because when digital meets processes, things and people, necessarily it meets complexity of processes, physicalness of things, subjectivity of people.

In a meet, if we don’t want a match, we have to consider the fact that the world is not (only) the one of research laboratories, but (above all) the one of gardeners – little or big – that will be the users of our technologies. We have to remember that same as we have all been Charlie Hebdo some days ago we are (and we will always be) all gardeners. We are and we always be that because, as users, we live the change and we have to consider the impacts and remember it when we come back to our dimension as experts. Because, given that useability is the relation between user model and design model, as far we go from our dimension of users as less we will be effective in making usable the innovations that we create.

The history of informatics is full of innovations that – independently of their potential effectiveness – ran into a brick wall of reality made of factors that, in their banality, have not been considered with due attention. Never as with Internet of Everything we have found ourselves into a technological revolution with impacts that are so strong for people – all the people – and therefore, we never have needed so much to keep the contact with daily reality. Never as today physical and digital reality needed an effort for integration so strongly.

For this reason I’m grateful to my gardener for his pragmatism, maybe he is not a IOE expert but, certainly as a big expert of problems, have already identified the potentiality and limits of the context where we are operating:

Reach the people: how does my gardener is on a video in which I talk about IOE it is a mystery. But it is a fact that subjects that are apparently specialized today are leaving behind the narrow fields of experts. It is an undoubtedly positive fact: we are reaching the people. For this reason it is important to be clear, translate technical and theoretical issues into real facts, promote exchange with real world, that is the world to which is bringing us the Internet of Everything. That Internet of everything that to be of everything have to be of everybody. And have to speak everybody’s language.
Look at real problems: Reach people means look at real problem. It means make an effort to understand needs of users, companies and institutions. Too many times we have seen ICT sector getting mixed up with self-referring topics, to the point that it lost the contact with reality and offer solutions that look for problems. Internet of Everything will be established as soon as expert will be able to look at real problems. And, obviously, understand it.
Provide concrete solutions: Look at real problems is the ability to provide concrete solutions. Moreover, it is important, more than before, involve those who live these problems every day. Undoubtedly Internet of everything will change everything but in this process the people that use the things have a central role. Identifying real solutions to real problem is the keystone to promote changes generated by the Internet of Everything. We don’t need to invent future scenarios: we need to start from daily problems of the people that know the processes from the inside. Although from a macroscopic point of view IOE will change whole sectors, we have to remember that this innovation will not be necessarily disruptive. In many cases it will be successful an incremental approach, to change the world step by step.

These three elements are and will be fundamental to pass from the stage where technologies have been used by first movers and enthusiasts in experimental contexts to the stage in which these technologies will be suitable for all. Paradoxically, when Internet of Everything will be a reality it won’t be “a reality” but “the reality” of a new society.

For this reason, it so important to follow the progresses of it, also by meet and debate as the one organized by Cisco at the second edition of the #IoEForumIta.