The Internet without Things

Last week I participated in a workshop on innovation where the question was raised whether innovation can be planned and implemented as a process in organisations or comes up spontaneously and is the result smart combining of already existing technology and creative marketing.image

To investigate this I asked my students which products or services have improved the quality of their life’s last five years and what they are experiencing as innovative and impacted their daily life significantly. As I expected the number one product for all is the Smart Phone because, according to my students, it enables them to 1) communicate with their friends online, 2) look something up quickly, 3) buy something inline and 4) listen to music or watch videos where and whenever they want. After some discussion if there was also sothing not related to the smartphone they came up with the route planner for in the car, online information while traveling, all ICT related services.

When I asked my students if they also have bought none ICT related products or service’s which improved their live it was quit for some time and after a long discussion they came up with the improved opening hours of supermarkets and shops, not one product or service not related to ICT or the internet was mentioned by the 10 groups of students I asked this.

For me reason to investigate how innovation has changed my own personal daily life. I walked around my house from the kitchen to the living room and looked what the impact of innovation has been over the last 10 years: have I bought a new innovative products the last 10 years which really changed my life and is not related to ICT or the internet? And to my surprise I could not find one new innovative product which made my life easier. The only thing I could think of is the Nespresso machine (already the third version I bought) while I also still have a Senseo and an Italian Espresso machine: good quality coffee is important for me! The last innovative products I bought were the electric toothbrush cleaner in the bathroom and the Quooker boling water-tap in the kitchen which were already invented 10 years ago…


While my parents in sixties were busy buying new products all the time which made housekeeping more easy and gave us more comfort (refrigerator, radio, TV, washing machine, pickup, magnetron, etc.) the last ten years I did not by a new innovative product not related to ICT. I only buy something when my old product is not working anymore and needs replacing: replacing does not give the same experience when using it for the first time. What I also noticed is that the total number of these consumer products has decreased significant. 5 years ago I had a CD player, Video player, DVD player, radio etc. now only a TV and Netflix and all the old DVD’s video’s and CD’s are stored and not used any more. I also used cables for connections all over the house, now phone, TV and Internet is wireless. This enables me to play music and radio from my IPad on a B&O box so can move around easy within my home using Apple Air. The only thing really which I bought new for nostalgic reasons is my Steepleton record player I bought a few hears ago which enables me to play my old records again.

Conclusion: consumers like me want less devices around them, not more! That’s why the term ‘The Internet of Things’, much used by IT suppliers to develop new markets, is wrongly chosen. Adding all kind of devices and sensors to your environment should make it possible for consumers to interact in an easy way with the internet to get the products and services they want. The term ‘The Internet of Things’ reflects the supplier perspective who wants to sell more ‘Things’, consumers don’t want more but less things to worry about: ‘The Internet without Things’.The Internet without Things www.gerardgeerlings.nlIt’s difficult to predict the future but I think that if you want to develop new business now, the best way is to focus on developing online services which make an existing device redundant, for example the PC. Would it not be great to walk around without a device and still be able to communicate through the internet? A nice agenda for the future!

=> This blog was published earlier in Dutch, renamed it and changed it to this shorter version..