Let’s talk about IoT! The vast amount of data that will be made available from connected objects, systems and other digital methods is valuable in its own right as a business asset for end users as well as partners. This data and the resultant analysis can be used by businesses to monitor the services and products they provide; and provide guidance for changes in products and services, as well is in the way a business operates.
It can also be used by partners to differentiate themselves and grow a recurrent business model instead of a one-off business model. This is a win-win situation: the end users extract more value from the products and systems it bought; the partner leverages the available data to add even more business stickiness and relevancy to his customer business while at the same time securing his business model.
IoT & the data challenge
There are technical challenges to gathering this volume of data:
First and foremost is that the real-time transmission of information from devices such as sensors can require far more bandwidth than is available. Consider, for example, a smart operating room in the hospital, which could contain a wide variety of sensing devices to monitor every aspect of a patient’s health including their breathing, heart rate, blood levels, and even skin color and muscle tone. This is an overwhelming amount of information and in order to provide good patient care, it must be analyzed in real time. Doing so allows very quick decisions to be made, perhaps even automatically, to improve patient health and the possibility of survival.
Second is the aggregation and intelligence that can be extracted from it. Aggregating all of the data so that it can be useful presents another challenge. When considering the concept of smart homes scattered throughout a major metropolitan area, the amount of data is immense and continuous. This information is also extraordinarily useful when examined on an aggregate level. Doing so, you could predict resource usage throughout the city by analyzing the aggregate data and then factoring in the effects of the weather, social events, and other variables. Let’s take the example of a smart stadium that was connected to the surrounding metropolitan area. In a large event, such as a football game, it’s predictable that there will be a surge of traffic as the event begins and ends. Sensors could report on the number of people in the stadium, and adjust traffic patterns automatically as those people begin to leave the parking area. Businesses in the local area – such as restaurants – which normally close early, could receive notification of the traffic surge and remain open longer.
Third is the storage and legal ownership of the data. Does the customer own their information? Or do the companies and businesses which collect information own it? Or perhaps the data aggregators own the data or is the data, once personalized information has been removed, available to the public domain? There is also the legal aspect of it: today’s laws might need to be adapted to cope with globally connected things generating more data on private information than any other system/software has in the recent years.
Why Blockchain might be the answer?
Blockchain technology promises to be the missing link enabling peer to peer contractual behavior without any third party to “certify” the IoT transaction. It also answers the challenge of scalability, single point of failure, time stamping, record, privacy, trust and reliability in a very elegant way.
Blockchain technology could provide a simple infrastructure for two devices to directly transfer a piece of property (ex: money, data, etc.) to one another in a secured and reliable time stamped contractual handshake. To enable message exchanges, IoT devices will leverage smart contracts which then model the agreement between the two parties. This feature enables the autonomous functioning of smart devices without the need for centralized authority. If you then extend this peer-to-peer transaction to human to human or human to objects/platforms, you end up with a fully distributed trustworthy digital infrastructure.
As supported by this recent MIT Technology Review, Blockchain promises to be a key accelerator of the IoT evolution and spread among all industries and usages as it solves the major roadblock of the IoT: trust, ownership and record. The technology will disrupt not only banking ecosystem and associated financial transactions; but will open the door to a series of IoT usages/applications that will create tomorrow’s unicorns.
Choose the right partner to optimize value
The Internet of Things is a unique opportunity for our end users and partners to extract more value from their current products and systems by connecting them. A prime example of this is seen through best-in-class partner programs, such as the EcoXpert™ Partner Program. Trained and certified by Schneider Electric on industry-leading EcoStruxure™ technology, the program enables its partners to be even more relevant to their customers as well as transforming their business model by adding a growing recurrent revenue stream.
How are you preparing for the changes that IoT will bring to your business and to the business of your customers?