What does business want from the IoT? Data

Connected Life

The exponential development of the Internet of Things (IoT) is difficult to put in numbers. But we have to try.

“Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and will reach 25 billion by 2020,” a late 2014 report from the industry analysts summarized.

It’s difficult to imagine an industry that won’t be affected by a network of connected devices that Cisco has estimated will generate $19 trillion in value by the end of the decade, which is more than the U.S. economy currently generates a year.

“From an industry perspective, manufacturing, utilities and transportation will be the top three verticals using IoT in 2015 – all together they will have 736 million connected things in use,” Gartner reports. “By 2020, the ranking will change with utilities in the No. 1 spot, manufacturing will be second and government will be third, totaling 1.7 billion IoT units installed.”

It expects 13 billion consumer IoT devices to be installed by 2020.

The Guardian recently held a webchat about how businesses are thinking about the IoT. Of course, everyone is trying to figure out how to monetize this massive new network. For hardware and software makers this path is pretty intuitive: make things people need or want.But as we’ve seen with the development of the Internet, there will likely be a huge secondary market for data.

“I think we’ve all envisaged a freely interconnected internet that really is a net rather than a hub and spoke design, but things aren’t really turning out like that,” Neil Lawrence, professor of machine learning, University of Sheffield said. “One major reason is that in the end the value is probably not really in selling the devices but in obtaining data and providing services over a long period.”

Professor Lawrence notes that data collection is essential to improve translation. In our near future we’re going to be doing a lot of speaking to machines, it seems. And improving the ability to understand nuance masses of data in combination with innovations in technology.

Any time data is being stored about your intimate activities, it’s a privacy risk. But if this data is used to market to you directly, that may be a bit freaky coming from your refrigerator. And the need for securing this data could create a lot of new jobs in security, Dr Emma Philpott, CEO, IASME Consortium Ltd suggests.

“What would be the consequences if a hacker gained access to that device (baby monitor, camera on a TV, security camera in your home) and is that something you can live with?” she asks.

Marketers will be wise to avoid raising users suspicions by sharing your private data with third-parties.

“The worst thing the marketing industry could do is start throwing ads at anything smart that moves,” Amy Kean, head of futures, Havas Media.

So machines don’t just have to get smarter; marketers do too.

“For me, the real opportunity is in the data, and the new product development,” she added.

[Image via Kevin Krejci | Flickr]


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