The Next Silicon Valley

The human, political, and economic impact of IoT, and how we can effectively harness it

Not a day goes by without some discussion of the IoT (internet of things) and how it is going to change our lives. The technology itself provides the potential for interfacing and interacting with the physical world and yielding revolutionary and radical impact upon wealth creation, economic growth, development, education, training and social wellbeing. It could also extend to capabilities for tackling global issues, such as climate change, environmental protection, energy and resource management and food security.

The potential is revolutionary in the sense that the sensory, identification, communication, networking, computational and other information-based technologies underpinning the IoT are relevant to virtually any sector of industry, commerce and services and provide almost unlimited potential for integration, innovation and derivation of further game-changing technologies. The potential is radical in the sense that when they are effectively applied they can yield significant improvements in productivity, performance and reductions in costs, and other associated benefits.

What is critically significant in considering these revolutionary features, as currently expressed, is their advanced position on their respective exponential growth curves (characterised by the so called Moore’s law and Kryder’s law descriptions of technological change) indicative now of very rapid performance gains and associated cost reductions, and with radical implications for growth in automation and the application of robotics, with attendant impacts upon employment and skills requirements.

These are benefits that have ramifications with respect to unemployment, which in turn may be viewed as a challenge that may be accommodated through seeking new, IoT-based, employment and training opportunities and exploitation of game-changing influences of network developments, notably social network developments. Through such developments the prospects are presented for greater customization and customer interactions in relation to product development, response times and customer services improvement.

Responding to this critically significant aspect of technological advancement requires profound consideration of the way companies manage technological and consequential change.

From a consumer standpoint, benefits of both commercial and domestic nature can be expected to arise from the exploitation of this potential. It requires some qualification as to what constitutes a consumer. Business consumers of infrastructure and architectural system providers may expect to benefit by exploiting these systems in new products and services and in generating ‘smart connectivity’ products for IoT applications in wide ranging markets, both domestic and commercial, the latter embracing everything from home entertainment to advanced industrialisation.

The domestic consumer can be expected to benefit from an ever increasing stream and range of products geared to exploit IoT capabilities and designed to support or contribute to virtually every sector of human activity, in the home, at work, social, travel, health, sport and leisure.

The collective, exponential, advancement in technologies, geared as it is to the revolutionary thrust of ‘Industry 4.0’, with its underpinning attention to cyber developments and artificial intelligence, is expected to have rapid impact upon industry and commerce, and the likelihood of precipitating a sea-change in attitudes to education, training and employment as well as more obvious influences upon the way we live.

This debate about the impact of IoT and how it can be effectively harnessed by the ‘industry of things’ will be a key topic in a talk to be given by Professor Anthony Furness, visiting professor at Harper Adams University, at the Smart Summit London on the 21st of September at the Olympia Conference Centre in London.

He will give his thoughts on questions like:

To read more about his initial thoughts on each of these questions, click here.

The Smart Summit is a two-day conference and exhibition covering the internet of things (IoT) ecosystem and its impact on the digital society. It features three in-depth event tracks and over 160 leading speakers, covering the smart home, smart cities and industrial internet of things. Co-located with a joint networking exhibition, each track (summit) features over 20 unique and topical sessions – with unique insight from industry heavyweights and case study examples from major contributors. To register for the event and more information, click here.

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