Assignment:The Internet of Things

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Assignment:The Internet of Things

Assignment:The Internet of Things

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Evans and Wurster suggest that traditionally the economics of information has been bundled with the economics of things. However, in this Information Age, firms are vulnerable if they do not separate the two. The Encyclopedia Britannica story serves as an example. Bundling the economics of things with the economics of information made it difficult for Encyclopedia Britannica to gauge two serious threats. The first threat was posed by Encarta, an entire encyclopedia on a CD‐ROM that was given away to promote the sale of computers and peripherals. The second was Wikipedia, which is freely available to all and updated on a nearly real‐time basis continuously by thousands of

7 Thomas H. Davenport, Information Ecology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 9–10. 8 Philip Evans and Thomas Wurster, Blown to Bits (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000).

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13Economics of Information versus Economics of Things

volunteers; currently Wikipedia reports that it holds over 4.9 million articles, receives 10 edits per second globally, and boasts 750 new pages added each day.9 In contrast, Encyclopedia Britannica published volumes every several years and the price was between $1,500 and $2,200, covering printing and binding ($250) and sales commissions ($500 to $600).10

Britannica focused on its centuries‐old tradition of providing information in richly bound tomes sold to the public through a well‐trained sales force. Only when it was threatened with its very survival did Encyclopedia Britannica grasp the need to separate the economics of information from economics of things and sell bits of information online. Clearly, Encyclopedia Britannica’s business strategy, like that of many other companies, needed to reflect the difference between the economics of things from the economics of information.

Internet of Things More recently, a new concept has emerged to describe the explosive growth in the data generated by sensors traveling over the Web. The Internet of things (IoT) is the term used to refer to machines and sensors talking to each other over the network, taking Evans and Wurster’s concepts even further. Although the term IoT was coined in1999,11 it was not widely discussed until the current decade. The earliest example of its functions was reported before the Internet even existed—in a Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University in the mid‐1970s. Staff mem- bers and students in the Computer Science Department were able to use a network connecting a minicomputer and sensors in the machine to monitor not only the machine’s inventory but even which button to push for the coldest bottles.12


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