InternetOfThingsBoth the Internet of Things and the Real Time Web are themes more usually covered by our friends over at ReadWriteWeb. However there is an interesting intersect between these two themes and the stuff that we’re more accustomed to writing about. First some definitions – the Internet of things refers to extending the Internet to objects and locations in the real world – a move, if you will, from connected computers, to connected… everything.

The real time web, again with a definition from Wikipedia refers to ‘a set of technologies and practices which enable users to receive information as soon as it is published by its authors, rather than requiring that they or their software check a source periodically for updates.”

So… where’s the connection? A month or so ago I spent some time at salesforce.com’s global HQ in San Francisco. I was meeting there with a couple of people and we got talking about Chatter. Chatter, for the two or three people in the enterprise world who haven’t heard of it, is a “Facebook-like” stream which gives real time status updates not just about contacts within salesforce, but also any artifact the user is interested in – sales leads, overdue accounts etc. It’s been heralded by CEO of salesforce, Marc Benioff as a revolution that will, quite simply, change the game for collaboration within the enterprise.

While I’m normally a little dubious about Benioff’s hyperbole – but with this one, there’s exciting things that could eventuate. For those that didn’t see it the first time around, check out Benioff’s keynote from DreamForce 2009 where he announced Chatter.

The execs I was meeting with at salesforce asked me for my thoughts around Chatter. While I stated my excitement about what an overview of real time data can mean for an enterprise (see my post about one particularly exciting application), I was even more excited to see what could occur when Chatter was connected with an interesting application built on force.com that had an application in the real world. Imagine, for example, a business that runs a vending machine operation through force.com – their machines could “chatter’ when some regular or emergency maintenance was required. Imagine refrigerators from a company that uses force.com – diagnostic information, power usage and other important information could be transferred to chatter and updated, aggregated and analyzed in real time.

You see Chatter could essentially be the platform that marries the internet of things, the ability to publish the real time web and business use cases. I’m not the only one thinking along these lines – I happened upon a post by Mike Leach who articulates a similar vision:

What if the buildings you worked in could participate in Salesforce Chatter feeds? What if the products you shipped could automatically create Cases in Salesforce when they needed servicing? More objects are becoming embedded with sensors and gaining the ability to communicate. This is enabling the next major advancement in the cloud; the Internet of Things.

  • Continuous Emissions Monitoring (CEM) Systems
  • Home / Business Alarm Systems
  • Shipment / Automobile location tracking
  • Environmental Control Systems
  • Healthcare Biosensors

Mike made a video showing a brief demonstration of the facility management chatter bot (see below) but as well as that he’s suggested a session for this December’s DreamForce conference based on “The Chatter of Things”. I’m hoping to attend DreamForce and I’m hoping that Mike will get to run his session – it may be a little ways ahead of the curve – but it’s a glimpse of a future that is appearing fast!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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