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Thought Leadership

Retail vs. Enterprise IoT – The Game Changing Trend

A CES-Inspired Series (#2)

This post, written, by Bob Pearson, President, W2O Group, is part of our CES-inspired series.  This topic is our second — IoT, Internet of Things.  

The corresponding post from Dr. Augustine Fou (@acfou), CMO of The Advertising Research Foundation can be found here:  http://blog.wcgworld.com/2016/02/from-iot-to-ios-internet-of-signals-the-promise-of-radically-positive-impact

We live in a world filling up every day with sensors, beacons and signals about ourselves, our houses, our cars and more.  It seems like everything we touch sends data to someone somewhere in the world. 

We love the physicality of putting on a watch or a Fitbit or checking our temperature via a new app on our phone.  This is cool, but it represents only the beginning of a much more important trend.

These examples of “retail IoT” are actually powering the more important, longer term trend of “enterprise IoT”.  Its why, in my view, the smartest technology companies in the world will someday be great in both understanding mobile and the enterprise.  It won’t be either/or.  Here are the key trends I see as driving this change.

#1 – Infrastructure IoT Impacts Safety & Habits – we are now used to understanding traffic patterns and alternative routes as we drive because companies have sensors in cars, trucks and roadways worldwide. Our car, itself, is now able to beam up data showing our oil status or how the transmission is working or what speed we’ve been …driving and if it is within legal limits.  This type of knowledge makes us safer and it also informs third parties, such as insurance firms, who will start to raise the standards on the habits they expect of us.  Imagine getting a bill saying your insurance is going up $200 per year since you drive faster than average and it is normally after midnight when you drive faster. 

#2 – The Sensor Gold Rush will lead to Open Source Solutions – we are now starting to realize that the more things we put sensors in, the more effective our insights can become.  The rush of available data will not be able to be contained within walled gardens, leading to a need for open source solutions that allow companies to build new algorithms to make sense of it all.  Don’t think so?  No one thought phones would use open source software and would remain walled gardens until Android came along.  Few thought it would go far with PCs long ago, but Linux and other groups had other ideas.  We never think so until it happens. 

#3 – Security Will Become a Major Priority – since so much intelligence will now be shared wirelessly, often without proper security protocols in place, we’ll start to realize how important securitizing this new “supply chain” of data will be to ensure that our lives are not completely out in the open.  For example, why not hack into someone’s car someday and turn off their fuel ignition while it is driving?  If data is flying out of places, hackers just need to focus to have their fun.  We already know that we have to think evil to catch evil when security and our data are involved.  

#4 – Personal Servers will become our Historical Center – most people never really saw the value of having a personal server to store their data, photos and other keepsakes, since PCs and phones power has improved so dramatically.  But soon enough, we’ll want our data for anything we own to be stored in our personal server in the cloud.  We won’t be accepting that our data just goes away when our latest watch or wrist band breaks.  That is our data and we’ll demand to track our progress over decades, not days.  And that is the key point.

We will want to track our exercise, health, house, auto and other movements for our entire lives.  Since someday our lives will be documented from birth to death, we should be able to access our own data anytime we want to. 

When enterprise IoT becomes a reality, we’ll benefit from its knowledge and we’ll also cringe from its new challenges. 

  • We’ll know more about ourselves and how to improve our lives than ever before.
  • We’ll be app and device agnostic, since our data’s insights are what we’ll care about, not what an app chooses to tell us. Apps can partner in informing us, but we don’t want to be totally dependent as we mature regarding our understanding of what is possible.
  • Companies will know more about us than ever before. Our driving records, health habits, purchase behavior, travel and any other aspect of our lives will be fair game.

We won’t be able to walk an inch without generating some level of data. 

The world’s infrastructure will be ready to record it all. 

It should lead to a renaissance in how we view the roles of the phone, tablet, PC and the technology of the enterprise. It will be our window into our world.

And we’ll be counting on companies and developers-alike to help us prepare for this blizzard of data to make sense of it all, to protect it from nefarious use and to make a better world as a result.

It won’t work perfectly.  It never does.  But we’ll look back on the current times of “retail IoT” and realize we were really seeing the birth of ‘enterprise IoT” all along.