One concept from the recent Gartner Symposium that had my mind spinning with the possibilities and potential risks was the concept of the “internet of everything”. In this future state, maybe only two or three years away, everything (most things) have a url, even inanimate objects point us and our devices to content, hyperconnecting business and extending value chains.
Think about it. Currently the internet is an internet of people, information and increasingly, services. Add places and physical objects and suddenly it’s a whole different ball game. Add to this that these internet-connected things can be active or passive, context aware, intelligent, even acting out processes for us. Our things, homes, cars, air tickets, clothes, could all be smart.
Take a simple Coke bottle, an ID, linking us to a url combined with intelligence on our device can lead us to marketing content, it could even tell us where the nearest vending machine is.
Take a baggage tag on your luggage which says ‘hey, I’m still here and I haven’t moved for 8 hours.’
Take a vending machine that reorders but estimates changes in buying habits directly or across a network of machines. It also detects changes around it, ‘hey, I need to be moved, not enough passing trade!’
Gartner estimate that by 2020 there will be 30 billion internet-connected devices, 200 billion intermittently connected devices. In other words far more things than people. This is not information but things with a presence, that can create meaningful interactions.
Take this mind blowing scenario. I am thinking of buying a new device, it detects my presence and reaches out to my bank to get pre-approved credit and lets me know I can buy. My smart phone confirms my home applications like it, (ie are compatible), my social network is canvased for approval also. I buy, payment is made and the supply chain clicks in.
Another builds on an intelligent parking system in down town San Francisco. It can already advertise spaces and availability. It can also change pricing to influence traffic flow, attracting traffic to less congested areas. Once this is connected to our smart device, the car, maybe we could advertise our presence and preferences. Want a coffee ready to go at the local coffee shop?
Connected facilities can also be optimised for availability and for less energy use. New revenue models will appear; pay-as-you- drive insurance, detecting your driving abilities, context ware about the location and proximity of risk.
Now our devices could also become our avatars picking up our preferences informing us to avoid or purchase, ‘skip this, you won’t like it.’ We can give them moods, ‘this weekend I want something different’. Devices will connect to other devices for us.
Now there is a scary side to all this. Everything means no or little privacy. Imagine the challenges for society and for business. It is coming, however, and interestingly the consumer, you and I, seem to be warming to the benefits and increasingly using without caution.