By John Kell and Alan Murray
August 26, 2015

Has the Internet of Things been hyped? That’s what my colleague Adam Lashinsky suggested recently while subbing for me writing this newsletter. Last week, research firm Gartner concurred, locating the Internet of Things at the “peak of inflated expectations” in its report on “Hype Cycles of Emerging Technologies.

 

I was in North Carolina the day the Gartner report was released, and put the question to SAS CEO Jim Goodnight – a man who was crunching Big Data before it was a thing. Dr. Goodnight conceded: “It’s probably a little hyped.” While business is kicking out vast amounts of data as a consequence of everything being digitally connected, most of it isn’t being analyzed. “Until we see the data,” said Goodnight – who employs a battalion of data scientists at his Cary, N.C. headquarters (No. 4 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For) – “we don’t know what we can do with it.”

 

Still, Goodnight argues the current hype is no reason to ignore the technology. Business leaders, he says, have to ask themselves: “Do they want to transform their businesses, or be transformed? If they don’t figure it out, they aren’t going to be around.”

 

Later that same day, I witnessed a modest example at Old Dominion Freight Line, where CEO David Congdon showed me his master control room. A giant digital wall map displayed the location of each of the firm’s more than five thousand trucks, and also indicated how fast each truck was moving. Needless to say, with the boss watching, no one was speeding.

 

Gartner’s hype cycle predicts a “trough of disillusionment” will follow the “peak of inflated expectation.” But then a rising “slope of enlightenment” sets in, leading to a “plateau of productivity.” In this case, that plateau is likely to be a high one. Ignore it at your peril.

 

Enjoy the day.

 

 

 

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Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

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