Darwin And The Internet Of Things

Oliver Grob

These days the Internet of Things is everywhere. But have you ever wondered what the Internet of Things has in common with Darwin?

Inventors and engineers often look to the nature to learn new things. In the case of IoT, I am not sure if nature was the template, but we can still see similarities.

Mikrofoto.de-volvox-4Consider Volvox, a genus at the segue between single-cell and multi-cell organisms. We can observe a sphere, consisting of single cells, which is trying to preserve the internal order.

The internal order is necessary to run the process of replication.

How does it do that? Each cell has sensors, which take concentration, temperature, or light. With that information, flagellate cells can change the position and orientation of the organism and control the osmosis processes. This information allows it to preserve the internal order.

Now let’s move ahead in time and evolution several million years and observe this:


Evolution has brought that principle to perfection. This organism has many more cells and precise sensors, but the intention has remained the same: preserving the internal order. This organism runs best if the temperature and internal concentration of minerals is constant. Many more sensors can observe the environment and direct the organism.

In this case, the amount of information coming from the sensors is enormous, so we need a specific organ to filter and compute the data.

This organ has even developed predictive capabilities to better process the sensor data and help decide what to do to preserve the internal order — for example, if you see a car approaching, you step aside.


In much the same way that evolution has improved cell sensors and processing of data, we can optimize the operation of businesses.

In earlier days businesses relied more or less on two pieces of information: customer needs and product availability. It was easy to control the business and keep it healthy by using the basic principle of supply and demand.

Today this is still possible, but now that geographical distance is less relevant for shoppers, competition is much harder. This requires businesses to optimize to the limit in order to avoid disruption.

The goal is to always know when your customers need which products, when and by whom those products can be delivered, and for what margin.

You can achieve this goal by adding sensors, such as wearables and GPS devices, in the enterprise and its vicinity. This captures the environment and preserves the internal order of processes within your business.


More sensors and more details requires a way to filter and process the data. Predictive capabilities can also optimize the control of business processes. This is where new technology such as Big Data; cloud; and in-memory, real-time and predictive analytics come into play.

In summary, we need an innovative platform in the cloud that enables massive data storage and real-time analytics. We need filtering and analysis of millions of datasets in milliseconds, plus in-memory technology that predicts what will happen in the future. Then we can translate the information into action items, which we use to control and optimize back-end business processes and trigger interaction with customers.

This will deliver the things evolution has achieved in millions of years.


Still hesitating? Just rely on evolution and add sensors, analytics, and predictions. Then optimize your business, proofed by Darwin.

Want more on the power of the Internet of Things? See Insights To Shift Your Perspective On The Internet Of Things.

Oliver Grob

About Oliver Grob

Oliver Grob is a Director IoT Retail in the SAP Industry Cloud where he leads strategy and is driving activities around the Internet of Things for Retail. He is also the solution owner for personalized marketing in Retail and a specialist in mobility and analytics.