Tagimpact

What’s long-term success? Outsized positive impact.

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For us, success is outsized positive impact—which is why I’m happy to see our work becoming part of Brazil’s National IoT Plan.

Recently, I was asked what long-term success looked like for me. Here’s the reply I gave:

To have outsized positive impact on society by getting large organizations (companies, governments) to ask the right questions early on in their decision-making processes.

As you know, my company consists of only one person: myself. That’s both boon & bane of my work. On one hand it means I can contribute expertise surgically into larger contexts, on the other it means limited impact when working by myself.

So I tend (and actively aim) to work in collaborations—they allow to build alliances for greater impact. One of those turned into ThingsCon, the global community of IoT practitioners fighting for a more responsible IoT. Another, between my company, ThingsCon and Mozilla, led to research into the potential of a consumer trustmark for the Internet of Things (IoT).

I’m very, very happy (and to be honest, a little bit proud, too) that this report just got referenced fairly extensively in Brazil’s National IoT Plan, concretely in Action Plan / Document 8B (PDF). (Here’s the post on Thingscon.com.)

To see your work and research (and hence, to a degree, agenda) inform national policy is always exciting.

This is exactly the kind of impact I’m constantly looking for.

New newsletter: What’s happening in the world of responsible tech?

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Note: Cross-posting this from the ThingsCon blog.

We know there’s a lot of great work happening around the world that promotes human-centric IoT and responsible, empowering technology. But when we were looking for a good overview we couldn’t find one!

So we decided to try creating that ourselves, in the most simple format we could think of: A monthly newsletter consisting of a list of countries, and the 3 most interesting projects from each countries, curated by a trusted local expert. (All credit for the idea goes to Monique van Dusseldorp. Thanks Monique!)

From time to time, we might be partnering up with other organizations or networks who work along the same lines and co-produce the newsletter—for example GIG, where Max is heavily involved.

Meet “Best of responsible tech around the world”, our new monthly newsletter! (The name is still a bit of a mouthful, so that might still change.)

What exactly is the content going to be, you ask? In terms of format, it’s going to be pretty straight forward: A list of up to three links per country with a 1-sentence explanation for context. In terms of projects featured, we’ll try a you know it when you see it approach und trust our local experts to pick the most interesting. It’s going to be human curation at its best!

We’d do this with a new newsletter list, published under the ThingsCon label, with full credit given to the local experts and published under Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA), so everyone can use and share that content non-commercially).

We aim to send this out once a month. It’s an experiment for us: if there’s enough demand, we’ll keep it up, otherwise we’ll retire the list, no harm done!

Tectonic Shifts #01: The Internet of Things (IoT)

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Tectonic Shifts is a series of articles on the mega trends that will shape our digital future for years (if not decades) to come.

tl;dr (Executive Summary)

What happens when you connect everything to the internet? The umbrella term Internet of Things (IoT) describes a wide range of technologies and applications ranging from sensor-packed, connected homes (Smart Home) to Wearables (connected fitness bands, smart watches) to networked factories or logistics centers (M2M, or machine-to-machine communications). The field is split between consumer-focused products on one hand and large-scale industrial applications on the other. While the estimates about market sizes and impact differ dramatically, everyone agrees that it’s huge, and growing fast. No matter which industry your company is in, this is not a topic to be ignored.

Numbers/impact

The exact estimates on the size of the market differ dramatically depending on who does the estimation and on how the market is defined. The one thing all parties agree on is that the market volume and impact are huge, fast growing and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg yet.

 

Some of the ball park figures often quoted in the industry and their sources:

  • USD 14.4 trillion value created between 2013 and 2022 (Cisco)
  • From 2 billion connected objects in 2006 to 200 billion by 2020 (Intel)
  • IoT market USD 7.1 trillion by 2020 (IDC)
  • More than 50 billion connected devices by 2020 (Ericsson)
  • “it will dwarf any other market” (Freescale & ARM)
  • “potential economic impact of the Internet of Things to be $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion per year by 2025” (McKinsey)

What does this mean for society & industries?

For the industries involved – which might very well be almost all industries to some degree – the growing role of the IoT means

  • large potential for innovation
  • access to new data-driven business models as new services can be built around user data and responsive devices
  • the software side of hardware and consumer devices becomes more relevant as hardware and software merge into new services and products

 

For the society at large, a utopian view of the IoT would assume…

  • a more responsive environment;
  • empowering technologies like connected systems and tools to allow seniors to live autonomously longer;
  • increasingly computer/robot driven economic growth;

 

A more dystopian view would instead assume…

  • large-scale security issues due to increasingly networked devices without sufficient emphasis on security and safety;
  • a control (rather than empowering) infrastructure controlled by large conglomerates or governments that fosters compliance and consumption over citizen participation;
  • ubiquitous surveillance through connected devices that spy on their users;

 

In other words, privacy and participation become a salient design and product issue.

Which industries are expected to be most strongly affected?

The IoT and its implications on the availability of data from ubiquitous sensors have impact across most industries. Most directly impacted:

  • design and product development companies since new categories of products become possible;
  • manufacturing and logistics companies (from automotive and aerospace to cargo transport firms) as sensors allow for real-time tracking and predictive maintenance of factories, production lines and logistics networks;
  • consumer electronics companies as the internet and connectedness becomes a default for consumer devices;

Risks & opportunities

Risks:

  • privacy and security implications are key concerns in connected, data-intense services and products;
  • standards wars and incompatibility between proprietary solutions;
  • data ownership can be tricky;

 

Opportunities:

  • new business models and product categories;
  • products and services aren’t “done” when they’re shipped, as the connection and customer relationship stays relevant over time (software updates, etc.)
  • potential cost savings in industrial settings thanks to real-time information (predictive maintenance, real-time tracking, etc.)

Resources, key players, links

The big players are Cisco, Bosch, Intel, IBM. There is an unusually wide range of other large corporates, SMEs, startups and independent players. Really, the IoT is one of the few fields in which everyone dabbles.

A note

With ThingsCon, I co-founded a conference that focuses heavily on IoT and the new hardware industry. The next ThingsCon will take place in May 2015.

 

To learn more, read what this series is all about and see all articles of Tectonic Shifts.