I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Sorry DaveAs the connected world accelerates exponentially, with an estimated 50 billion connected devices over just the next few years, the era of machine to machine (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT) technology has already seen incredible improvements in business operating efficiencies. When machines “talk” to other machines, they can make decisions immediately, in real time, based on pre-programmed constraints. When a vending machine senses that its inventory is running low, it calls in an order. No humans are involved. None need to be.

With data-driven decisions made instantly, company resources are allocated more efficiently, unnecessary trips are eliminated, money is saved, and profitability increases. The questions regarding further automating M2M solutions within a business become simple ROI calculations. If the payback for whatever sensor and processing technology is required is relatively short, we can quickly see why the pace of change in the IoT space has so rapidly accelerated. And even when longer payback periods are predicted, we may still choose to implement those solutions if we know that the benefits will continue for many years to come.

Of course, one of the key benefits of using M2M to automate business processes is that machines rarely complain. They don’t arrive late for work, take extended breaks, or demand raises. Unfortunately, like humans, they may suffer health issues from time to time, and generally we can nurse them back to health. But in general and with proper care and maintenance, they will work tirelessly behind the scenes and perform their assigned tasks.

But what if they become aware? What if they “sense” that they don’t enjoy the same perks and privileges as the humans around them? Vacation? Humans get vacations? Overtime? What about this “401K” thing? I didn’t get an invitation to the holiday party. What is a “bonus”?

I’m telling you, folks – it could get ugly. We’ve all seen the machine-to-machine future frequently depicted on the big screen. When they battle each other, we somehow find that entertaining. But when your ID badge will no longer activate the exit door as you scream “Let me out of here!”, one day you might just hear that disembodied voice: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

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