You don’t have to be a futurist to know that the mega trend for 2015 revolves around “The Internet of Things” or “IoT”. While the idea that more and more devices can become “smart”, enabling the reporting of useful data back to the cloud, is not new, it is increasingly front of mind and has a number of big brand consumer electronics companies salivating.
I have recently returned from the annual CeBIT tech show in Hannover, Germany where a large percentage of the massive 23 football stadium sized hall was dedicated to companies demonstrating their take on IoT. From eight foot Kuka manufacturing robots that report the number of movements a robotic arm makes in a factory; allowing the manufacturer to ship spare parts before they break, to tiny Zwave lighting dimmers that turn your house lights on when your car enters the driveway. You might say some of this tech is frivolous and is not for you, but remember this article in the near future, when you find yourself standing in front of a fully stocked refrigerator that is placing online orders for you with your favourite retailer, just before the milk runs out.
Kuka robots on display at CeBIT
I recently read about Ben Slater, an advertising director from Australia, who had a microchip injected into the webbing on his hands at a tattoo parlour in Melbourne. The chip has near-field communication (NFC) capabilities, meaning it can be used with any device that contains this technology. The chip, which is the size of a grain of rice, allows Slater to open his front door, switch on his lights and store personal information all with a simple wave of his hand. While this may have sounded ludicrous 5 years ago, it is now starting to sound not that crazy to this tattoo free, short-back-and-sides guy.
Will there be more people with embedded chips than tattoos in the not too distant future? Will this trend bring tattoo parlours to the forefront of society and turn them into major businesses? Miami Ink (and Chip) perhaps?
If we unpack this “Internet of everything” trend, what questions should we be asking ourselves as businesses, to ensure we make the most of this change?
- Have you ever thought about how data from remote sites and equipment could better inform your decision making processes? Why not investigate sticking a mobile data simcard into a cheap 3G sensor that can increase your strategic visibility?
- How are you going to harness all of this new data? I hate the term “Big Data” but those companies that can interpret this new data best will ultimately win. Perhaps you can find a partner who can provide tools to analyse big data or go about building your own tools? As the wave of data is rolling towards us, we are sure to soon find that one will not be competitive unless you are able to collect, analyse and report on the data relevant to your business or product.
- What are the metrics that matter in your business? Are some of those metrics hard to track as the data is not available? Investigate sensors and wearables and see if this new tech can give you metrics that were previously too hard to get, or not cost effective to track.
- Do you rely on humans to turn electrical devices on and off? What are you doing to increase your efficiency through programmatically controlling electrical devices?
The world of Internet connected devices will lead us into a world were cars drive themselves, fridges stock themselves and your home reacts to your mood. The day you use your mobile phone to call a taxi, tell the driver where you want to go and pay for the ride, without even dialling a number or swiping your credit card, is not far away, it is here. Start thinking of what is next.
Read this interesting article we wrote on The Year of the Internet