What Is Internet of Things, and Why Should Meeting Planners Care?

By Kelsey Ogletree, May 9, 2016

The world of meeting planning has many acronyms: CMP, RFP, ADR, ROI… the list goes on. There’s one more to add to your lexicon this year: IoT. If you don’t yet know about the Internet of Things, you will—and should.

Benson Hougland, vice president of industrial automation technology firm Opto 22, laid out the seemingly complex concept in simple terms in 2014 at TEDxTemecula in California. “The internet has been around awhile, but it’s mostly the product of people—created by people, for people, about people,” he said. “The Internet of Things is not just about connecting people but connecting things.”

This is a big deal because when things can “talk” to each other, they can share their experiences, he explained. From that springs the ability to sense, communicate with, interact with and control other things.

Think IoT doesn’t apply to you? Wrong. Hougland explained the ways IoT affected his life on a daily basis two years ago during his talk. Your smartphone, for example—it knows where you are, if you’re moving, how much light is in the room, what you’re saying to Siri and more. Your fitness tracker counts your steps, reminds you to stand up and knows how much you’ve slept, at the very least. If your home is equipped with a Nest thermostat, that device communicates on a network so you can control the temperature of your home from afar.

For many of us, we don’t have to think about these new automations to know they’re happening. In the same vein, IoT isn’t some far-fetched technology that’s in the ether and on the way: In every sense, it’s already here. Why should meeting planners care? Because, said Hougland, big business cares: “You could say they’re betting the farm on the Internet of Things.”

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