Human beings are pretty good at creating technology. We’ve always done it; it is part of the essence of what makes us human. The stone tools of the ancient past are in every way as important, if not more so, than the digital tools we use today. But leaps of logic within our material culture that result in true innovation are much rarer.
I’ve been recently reading a new paper by AIG, “IoT Case Studies: Companies Leading the Connected Economy,” and it made me think about major shifts in technology and how they impact society.
Material culture and the technological advances that can come out of it affect our society deeply. The Internet of Things (IoT) offers a level of cultural shift that has only been seen in terms of technology a few times in history. The Mesolithic, the start of which was around 11,600 years ago, was one such period. The changes in human technology during this period were a significant leap forward—the old stone tools were left behind, and new more complex and multi-dimensional microliths (small multi-use blades) were developed. This led us into the agricultural revolution and the world we know today.
Leaps in technology development, like the ones we are seeing with the IoT, have significant impacts on society and how it operates. The IoT is an evolution that came from the internet—this is true. But IoT is also revolutionary in the impact it will have on society and on business.
The IoT: a Leap Forward in Business?
The latest AIG paper reports how, right across industry, small, medium and large companies are working the IoT into their business models. The paper makes an interesting observation: “…so far, the IoT has inspired unprecedented cooperation and coordination.”
This is a highly compelling scenario. Inter- and intra-company collaboration has the potential to be one of the biggest disruptors of how we do business. Instead of protectionist business policies, we will see more open markets.
One of the reasons the paper is so powerful is that it moves beyond the hype surrounding IoT to present examples of real-life, IoT implementations and innovations that are happening right now. Here are some snippets:
– IBM, one of the stalwarts of modern technology, is no stranger to the world of the Internet of Things. IBM is providing the foundation stones for businesses to develop IoT devices. The IBM IoT platform is behind Daimler’s Car2Go business, which is set to change the way we use personal transport. Car2Go is a business plan that would not work without the help of IoT sensors and data analysis. With Car2Go, people can just click on an app on their mobile devices and choose a Car2Go car in their vicinity. No more parking fees, no more up-front vehicle purchases, just convenience and freedom. Car2Go is also showing how the connectivity inherent to the IoT reaches out to encompass associated business. Car insurance for Car2Go users can be highly tailored on a per-person, per-trip basis because of the data generated by the IoT sensors—that’s better for the insurer and the driver. You can imagine too, that the data generated through programs like this will allow us to create more efficient and smarter cities.
– It isn’t just high tech industries that are embracing the IoT; the agricultural revolution of 10,000 years ago is being taken to the next level because of the IoT. According to the AIG paper, John Deere, the farm equipment manufacturer, is on the cutting edge of the Internet of Things. John Deere has created an IoT Cloud platform that is optimizing modern farming practices. All of John Deere vehicles connect up via their JDLink Cloud platform. John Deere also has IoT sensors giving out data on weather conditions, as well as soil and crop status. All of this data, coupled with information feedback from machinery, can be used to optimize farming techniques, improving crop production as more data is generated and models are created to predict future needs. This sharing of data and insights allows collaboration across the collective farming community and can enable new increases in production. John Deere has a vision of a highly connected and diverse farming community—a community in which growers, retailers and buyers are connected.
The Near Future is Like a Sci-Fi Movie
Remember the Tom Cruise film Minority Report, where they used virtual reality to visualize and model incoming data? When I watched it I thought, ‘How cool if we could do that!” Now we can. The IoT is one big mother ship of data. How you view and use that data is the key to creating rich rewards from the IoT. OTOY, an LA-based cloud graphics visualization company is using the data generated by IoT sensors to offer deep insights to a multitude of industry sectors. The example given in the AIG paper is that OTOY can utilize IoT data to advise on the construction of buildings; OTOY uses this data to simulate real-world weather conditions and discover their impact on buildings.
It seems we are at another leap forward in our technological advancement as human beings. And it isn’t too soon. Some of the world’s biggest problems, including feeding our increasing population and making cities a safer place to live, are now being solved through the use of connected devices and IoT sensors. We are all starring in a sci-fi movie thanks to the IoT, which is becoming our new reality with big implications for business.
This article is the product of a partnership between BestTechie and member companies of American International Group, Inc. Although this post is sponsored, the information and opinions expressed in the article constitute only my own beliefs.
I partnered with the brand to write this article but every word is mine.