With more than four billion internet users worldwide today and 31 billion connected devices forecast by 2020, the future of the digital world lies in how people and “things” will interact with each other. The key to this will be the convergence and consolidation of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms and devices which will be able to seamlessly exchange data between people, networks, devices and applications.
Creating this world, where multiple service and technology layers work harmoniously together to create ubiquitous, ultra-connected experiences, is a task that will take years to complete. It requires a robust technology platform, powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
By 2025, IDC predicts that there will be over 80 billion connected “things” creating and replicated more than 180 zettabytes every year. Yet today, only a very fraction of the data that people and businesses generate, collect and store ends up being used to its full potential.
The convergence of AI and IoT can change this, by creating a connected system of things that can be leveraged in everyday life. This can, and must, lead to the creation of an industry-wide ecosystem in which data from connected devices can be shared and monetized by everyone.
Such an ecosystem could be defined at industry vertical level, or it could create connections between different industries – a combination of vertical and horizontal approaches. Supply chain management is a good candidate for such a treatment.
There are clear indications that the telecommunications industry has already succeeded in aligning these types of efforts: we are moving from a network of discrete cellphone towers, associated with and operated by different mobile network operators, resulting in incomplete coverage, depending on which mobile network operator a subscriber used, as well as what location they were in.
The trend towards shared infrastructure helps to create better economies of scale and a seamless experience for cellphone users as a result. This trend reflects economic and operational common sense, thus proving the validity of a common infrastructure for IoT, powered by AI.
We are heading towards an environment in which, instead of having many discrete applications, controlling multiple environmental factors, there is the potential to have inter-connectivity through a unified platform.
Let us take the example of home automation. Imagine if you are sitting in your living room and you feel a cold draft. Instead of the thermostat simply raising the temperature, the thermostat will understand that a window in one room in the house might be open and alert you to that fact. This is an area where the value of a combination of IoT and AI lies moving forward. For these types of connections to work, there also needs to be an advanced network to connect all of this data and analytical processes together.
The technology revolution we’re living through has changed and will continue to change our approach to many aspects of daily life, but it won’t happen overnight. So-called industry earthquakes, like AI and IoT, must continue to evolve and the industry must come together to make this a reality.
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