Disrupted Everything – the Internet of Things – massive disruption

The internet of things. . . VERY big data – friend or foe?

Most organisations claim to have some element of ‘big data’ in their strategy, whatever they may mean by that. However, few have really got to grips with extracting any value.

The world has moved very quickly.  Where businesses understood what to do with straightforward transactional data, the ballooning quantities of ‘big data’ are proving trickier. Myriad unstructured data sources such as social media, browsing habits, and CRM systems ought to yield business gold with the right analysis. . .

Well it’s going to become a whole lot more complex with the internet of things (IoT).

The machine-to-machine conversations at the heart of the IoT will generate huge clouds of data.

Smart heating systems, power exchanges with the grid, water controls – the concepts that make the IoT exciting for consumers and business alike – have one thing in common. They’re enabled by electronics, which connect them to the internet. This means that there are wireless transmitters and receivers tied to sensors to send data from the device into the IoT where they can be processed and instructions sent back. It’s ‘smart’ machine-to-machine dialogue.

This will enable the vision of the IoT, bringing automation and cost savings to our everyday life. However, it will also create a step change in the volume of data available. Electronics manufacturers will be able to use it to fine tune their products to consumer needs in real environments. It will deliver deep ‘real time’ insights into user behaviour.

Should we be concerned? Is handing over that data just the price we pay for the benefits we receive?

I see two impacts from the core of the IoT and they’re rather in conflict. I’m not quite sure if it’s friend or foe.

On the positive side, electronic devices will self monitor performance and flag the need for repairs or maintenance. Design quality should therefore surely improve. We also ought to see real time/real world product reviews from the products themselves!  This may not be data that the manufacturer wants to share, but in any market it only needs one company that is proud of its track record to go open with performance data – from boilers and fridges through to cars and TVs – and it forces everyone’s hand. We will suspect that any company that is not being transparent of covering up issues.

This really could be disruptive in many markets. More reliable marques will be the beneficiaries and straight unbiased data could replace partisan consumer reviews.

On the downside – in a world post-NSA revelations and concerns about just what fruitiness could be exposed on the cloud, who do you trust with your data? The IoT could provide all manner of fall-out data that could be used by villains and marketers alike. It is probably equally unwelcome to some consumers. Power data will clearly show unoccupied houses. . . Devices and brands in use can be tied directly to your address.

I’m guessing the advantages for us as consumers will outweigh fears around privacy, but it’s certain that the degree to which our lives are lived under the watchful eyes of big corporate entities are only going to increase. It’s also going to massively increase the challenge for businesses to find gold in their data.

Those entering early, exploring data opportunities, and moving quickly to embrace the transparency the IoT will force, are likely to be the winners.

Posted by Kevin Yapp