Internet access is becoming more and more available in even the most rural areas.
As new technologies emerge - including mesh networking, LoRa connectivity which uses very little battery power, and applications leveraging cloud computing - our ability to develop systems connecting not just people, but also things, is maturing exponentially.
The use cases for the Internet of Things (IoT) are vast, and touch any number of industries: industrial IoT making factories more efficient by instrumenting equipment; agriculture where irrigation systems can be monitored and controlled based on automatic soil testing; renewable energy management; health monitoring; and so much more.
While the Over the Top (OTT) market has for many years been primarily focused on human messaging, it will expand as then number of messages sent between machines increases. For example, a farmer can set up water measurement with low cost sensors in his or her fields, and set the policy on a mobile app on an affordable smartphone to "ping" when the soil has become too dry.
An individual with chronic heart disease can be given a wearable monitor, and when that individual's heart rate exceeds a policy established by the medical clinic's doctor, the patient and the doctor can both receive messages on their smart phones indicating a high risk situation, then connect the patient and doctor for an immediate voice conversation.
In areas where earthquakes threaten communities, earthquake monitoring equipment can be programmed to send alerts to every registered mobile device in the area, and the receiver of the text message can click on a link to go to a web page where current information is posted.
What is powerful about these M2M2H - Machine to Machine to Human - combinations is that sessions initiated, regardless whether by a machine or human, can all be supported over the same network: the Internet.
But the Internet, as we know, can be an often dangerous place, and with the recent large scale DDoS attacks on connected things many people and organizations are worried about the ability of nefarious players to hack into connected cities, power plants, healthcare, smart cars, and other IoT systems. Cameras have been hacked, locked door systems have been hacked, and even large power plants and public utilities have been threatened.
The quality of experience on the Internet can also be problematic, particular in emerging regions where bandwidth may be limited or unmanaged by software.
In order for the promise of connected people and things to manifest fully, we need not only to create applications that make our lives easier, safer and better - we also need to think as a society about how we can continually bring more resilient, more available, more secure Internet access to the entire world.
This is no easy task, but the good news is that when we do create economic models where applications for smart farming, smart industry, smart energy and smart governance actually end up saving businesses and organizations money, these applications enhance a community's ability to grow their economy and compete in a more globalized world. And in turn, we start to collectively build the business case for more investment in better Internet.
We are starting to see breakthrough innovations in the next-generation Internet - what IDC has called "The Third Platform" - where the Internet is improved to the extent that it can be embedded with applications and perform better than legacy "private networks" in supporting specific applications on virtual networks that use new protocols and methods to secure every "a" and "b" end connection.
Only when the Internet is made faster, more accessible, and more secure will the applications in the M2M2H world - at the intersection of people and machines - really take off. When that time comes - and it is just around the corner - Over the Top will have new meaning, as we ascend to a new level of life enhanced by technology.
Roy Timor-Rosso is the GM Kandy APAC & EMEA at Genband.