It has been estimated that by 2020, there will be 50B IoT devices. This is about, 6 – 7 IoT devices per person in the world. Everything will be digitized. Level and sophistication of automation and machine reasoning will increase to cover routine work. Overall change will further accelerate through collaboration of humans and Artificial Intelligence systems.
The Global economy has entered into a new phase – the Intelligence of Things economy (IoTe). Intelligent devices are exchanging analyzed information within a purpose-built service ecosystems targeted for the individual consumer market. Individuals consume services that are embedded to their lives. To distinguish from current IoT devices, IoTe devices and solutions are directly communicating with each other to provide more autonomous system level behavior.
The underlying technology is developing all the time and at maturing at a significant pace. We are in the early stages of on-going change from post-industrial information age to Intelligence of Things economy. Some say that the world economy has entered the 6th Kondratiev wave, which typically lasts aout 40 – 60 years.
Currently we are at the start of IoTe and companies are finding possible solutions based on post-industrial paradigms and business models. The transition to IoTe will be gradual and enabled by new IoTe software to implement new business models.
We at Symbio want to present a point of view on the development of IoTe. We want to explore and learn with our readers, which direction IoTe is going. To do this, I will publish a set of “point of views” on the topic and let’s see where it takes us. Co-creating what’s next.
The main reason for this point of view are the new innovative business solutions and models. So far we have not seen that many new business models and IoTe is seen everywhere other than in real life.
Internet technologies and AI is developing at speed and technology is changing the world. Of course, it’s not the technology per se, but what the technology enables companies and individuals to do. Companies just have formulated their business strategies to compete in the digital world. Many of these companies are purchasing IoT platforms or even developing their own platforms; when the IoT scenery is already evolving towards purpose built IoT ecosystems. Many of the current IoT platform features are commoditized and bear little competitive advantage – no more than email systems. We also want to discuss how to implement IoTe solutions.
The recent IDC study notes that there will be a number of special Internet of Things platforms that have more business or functional focus. Currently we are aware that leading companies are already creating IoTe business assets in the form of IoTe business platforms and not focusing as much on technical solutions. The focus has shifted from technology solutions to business solutions.
The IoTe definitions
Let’s define some important terms to establish a consistent reference point. The definitions are aimed to create structure around purpose built ecosystems or business platforms.
IoTe ecosystem is a network of companies and their devices that are joined via business platform to perform defined and designed services for joint users (aka customers) or customer’s devices.
A (IoTe) business platform is a set of business rules, business services, reasoning algorithms and data representation standards implemented by (IoTe) technical platform. It is the business platform where IoTe value creation happens. For an individual company, one of the key question is “how close to the center of business platform do we want to be?”. “Early mover”- companies are aiming to dominate their markets by introducing their own open IoTe business platforms. The business services are mainly for the users of the business platform for initiating services and for support purposes.
A (IoTe) technical platform is a technology stack covering device connectivity, security, upgradability, support for AI, Blockchain, support for cloud execution (IaaS) and API to access the technology platforms services. The technology platform is a necessity and has great importance in terms of how easily new functionality, devices, companies and 3rd parties can be introduced in addition to scalability.
The ecosystem can be open, where companies and users can join the ecosystem openly and the specifications are openly published. Open does not necessarily mean free. AirBnB and Uber are open ecosystems. The ecosystem can be also closed, where an ecosystem founder can decide who is out and who is in. Should ecosystems be open or close a matter of strategy and objectives, not technology.
Diagram 1. An IoTe ecosystem and its parts
Possible future direction
Increasingly solutions will be implemented as distributed software running across IoTe devices. The IoTe device can for example be a connected car, equipment or consumer device with in-built processing capability. The software that these IoT devices run will be more complex. AI is also developing and more IoT devices are running AI algorithms. Blockchain enables the development of commercial and trust layer of the Internet. We can also see the prominence of “Edge Computing”, as IoT devices become more capable, thanks to Moore’s law. In addition, the machine-to-machine communication will prevail over machine to cloud communication.
The illustration below depicts IoTe’s future direction and an example of the impact and change. The current IoT solutions make business sense as they drive positive return on investment. This is all good if the scope is a single device, but more accurate and customer focused solutions can be built, if te information from various sources and devices can be used. At the same time when computing moves to Edge, the solutions start to exhibit autonomous behavior. In some situations like autonomous vessels and other transport solutions, Edge Computing is a requirement. So, we can estimate that today’s predictive solutions are just the beginning.
Diagram 2. Current IoT solutions and future IoTe solutions
Instead of having a device just radiating data to be used for remote purposes, one can see that fleets or sub-systems can start acting in a more adaptive and corrective fashion. We will see application of these Business Solutions in smart plants and factories, where the production can be adjusted and managed to exceptions. At the end of the day, somebody needs to fix the failed equipment. In cars, this sort of solution could mean that driving routes are re-calculated and departure times rescheduled in the case of exceptions. In the case of personal training, as part of future solutions, the trainers might reschedule their practice to avoid sports injuries or help get better results based a person’s body measurements. We think that there is no limit to useful services because ecosystem players augment each other’s data, which is used at the edge to deliver intelligent solutions.
If you made it so far, I thank you. To conclude we are at the beginning of the Intelligence of Things economy, which finally delivers IoT promise and can introduce new working and business models affecting our daily lives.
IoTe is providing us with new business opportunities. Companies that have their own product lines will definitely benefit by being able to collect more information on how and why products are used. There is also a great business potential to combine information emitted by separate products to delivered system level solutions. Companies that are able to bring together information from various sources and are able to build purpose build IoTe business platforms are on position to become category winners.