Gartner just released its latest figures on the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s a doozy: 6.4 billion connected things will be operating by 2016, with 5.5 million new things getting connected every day.

Clearly, the IoT will continue to have a huge impact on the consumer side as we’ve already seen. But what are IoT leaders talking about on the B2B side?

Leadtail and Neustar set out to uncover just that by analyzing the tweets of 300 IoT executives, practitioners and thought leaders. Their new report, Social Insights: Internet of Things (registration required), uncovers the hashtags, influencers, publications and topics of conversation important to those in the B2B IoT space.

“As marketers we are increasingly hearing about how the Internet of Things will change everything,” said Carter Hostelley, CEO of Leadtail.

“There have been a lot of discussions at the consumer level, but we began to realize that IoT has tremendous B2B applications, and all sorts of questions around the data being collected around those devices. It’s a rich area, with different people trying to figure out what the IoT really means.”

CMSWire talked with Hostelley, along his colleague Karri Carlson, VP of social insights for Leadtail, about some of the key findings of the report. Here’s what we found out.

Where Do IoT Leaders Live?

According to the report, leaders live in cities that have a history of innovation, can provide access to capital and are home to both research universities and startup communities.

“This is not a phenomenon isolated to traditional centers of tech,” said Carlson. “In the study, we saw Boston, San Diego, Seattle and Atlanta. It’s a cross-functional phenomenon, and it’s aligned to innovation and startups.”

What Do IoT Leaders Talk About?

Topics like data, security, mobile, Google and innovation are top of mind for IoT leaders, the report found.

IoT leaders are also trying to learn as much as they can about who’s who in this emerging space, how they can be prepared for what may come next and how the IoT will affect business, as evidenced in the report’s listing of popular stories with IoT leaders.

Want a peek? Here are the top three:

Who Influences IoT Leaders?

In the report, IoT executives are defined as “founders, CEOs and other executive champions of IoT programs that are charged with turning vision into strategy, and marshaling the best resources available to execute.”

Top influencers for this group include: Vala Afshar,@ValaAfshar Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce, Benedict Evans, @BenedictEvans, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley that invests in technology companies; and Stacey Higginbotham, @gigastacey, a senior editor at Time Inc. (The report lists 15 influencers total for each group mentioned here.)

IoT practitioners — senior contributors and team leaders of IoT companies and business units — share some of the same influencers, but also look to Chris Matthieu, @chrismatthieu, director of IoT engineering at Citrix, Kirk Borne, @KirkDBorne, principal data scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton and Dana Blouin, @danablouin, a PhD candidate at SIIT—Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand and a frequent CMSWire contributor.

And, finally, the thought leaders of the group — consultants, journalists, evangelists and analysts — follow influencers like Marc Andreessen, @pmarca, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, Evan Kirstel, @evankirstel, a Boston-based business strategist, and President Obama, @POTUS.

Why Do IoT Leaders Share?

This area of the study probably yielded one of the richest insights of the report: the need for collaboration among the IoT community.

The report notes that leaders share content from visual networks like YouTube and Instagram.

“It’s a very science fair mentality,” said Hostelley. “It’s one thing to say you have this great idea, but a lot of these things are about ‘show me,’ with an emphasis on face-to-face, getting people together and sharing information.”

Indeed, another finding showed that IoT leaders are more likely than other senior executives to share information about events and meetups.

And, finally, leaders are promoting crowdfunded projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

“There’s a higher degree of people sharing Kickstarter and funding programs, trying to get projects off the ground,” added Hostelley. “It’s this notion of show and tell — show people how it works and get people involved instead of having a top-down structure.”

Commenting on the amount of social activity available for the report, his colleague, Carlson, underscored that collaboration is a fundamental component to understanding and thriving in the connected world.

“We had no trouble finding socially active people to build the panel. Lots of executives working in IoT are active and vocal in social media. The underlying ethos is this: The only way we’ll bring IoT to the world is through collaboration.”

For More Information:

Title image by Ryan McGuire