Economic benefits of the IoT – from Scotland

Written by on October 2, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

droneIf proof were needed that the IoT will be ubiquitous and pervasive, then a sold out conference in Edinburgh on the subject does the job. It was a fascinating day, with a decent cross-section of speakers that would have more than done justice to a similar event in New York or Silicon Valley.

There was Theo Priestley, Forbes contributor, as well as fellow cynic and Edinburgh dweller. He painted the ‘big picture’ for us, the $19 trillion opportunity, 50 billion devices and more data than being produced than can even be conceived of at the moment. A really interesting thought from Theo was (with a photo of a telematics machine and a set of car keys) that, actually it should be the customer who owns the data and he should rent it out to the providers that he chooses. This certainly comes under the heading of ‘neat idea’ but it will take a seismic shift to make it happen. We have all surrendered our privacy and our data to Facebook, Google and Co by simply signing up (and clicking ‘agree’ when we haven’t even opened the terms and conditions).

There will definitely be a fight about data ownership (and privacy) in the near future.

Theo’s IoT example was that the said telematics machine would normally be owned by the car manufacturer or the insurance company, and they would use the data to impose an insurance premium on the customer. What, though, if the customer owned the telematics machine and used its data to broker the best premium out of the insurance market?

The real surprise of the day, apart from Steve McKee of Cisco announcing that the US has just exhausted its supply of IPv4 addresses, was a speech from Deputy Leader and Finance Minister John Swinney.

What would a Finance Minister have to say about the IoT?

Perhaps he was not as up to speed as the other speakers on the specific opportunities of the IoT, and why should he be, but he put forward some very solid reasons to embrace the digital revolution.

Sixty percent of his correspondence is about digital connectivity. It will drive the economy. For the first time, in the recent economic downturn, the Highlands, Islands and Remoter Regions (there may not be a place called the Remoter Regions, but it sounds interesting) kept growing. Why? Because it could, due to digital connectivity. This, clearly, is good news.

He arrived during the speech before his, late because of fog over the Forth. Indeed, using 4G, Google Maps and a decent driver he managed to plot ways through the back streets of Dunfermline that explorers have yet to find. He arrived just in time to hear Steve McKee describe ‘the intelligent pill bottle,’ the one that tells you when it is time to take the medicine. To us journalists and mortals it seemed pretty pedestrian, and skirted the Internet of Silly Things we love making fun of (there was a connected loo paper dispenser presentation which, sadly, we missed).

Mr Swinney, on the other hand, became very excited by the idea – the pill one, that is. As Minister of Finance, he realised that if there were ways of getting patients to take their medicine when they were meant to take their medicine it would save him a very large amount of money. The largest cause of having to provide emergency care – hugely expensive care – is when people forget to take their pills. Or can’t be bothered. Keeping people in their own homes, and monitored, makes life better for everyone, including the Finance Minister and his budget.

It was a nice surprise to find an event this much on the pulse in Edinburgh, thank you Scot Tech.

Statistic of the event: Barcelona adopted Smart City technology and created value of $3.6 billion in doing so. Not only did they/are they increasing revenues from services such as parking, but also attracting start-ups, and therefore creating jobs, in their thousands. This via Steve McKee of Cisco, who, he says, has given up compiling examples of IoT driven value creation projects. He stopped when he got to 1,000.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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