Archive for August, 2011

Is the Internet of Things Waiting for a Hero?

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

We live in a world where smart technology abounds. Every day more and more physical objects are embedded with sensors that link wirelessly to one another and devices communicate to make our lives simpler – the Internet of Things is becoming a reality! Every brave new world needs a hero and today’s digital world is no exception.

The question is who will become the hero of the Internet of the Things? Who will be the new Vince Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee or Steve Jobs? Who will be the father of something that virally transforms the intangible into something concrete, powerful and awe inspiring? These thoughts occurred to me during a recent roundtable about the Internet of Things organized by the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET), for which I am an advisor.

At this roundtable we discussed this year’s “Internet of Things Conference” in Brussels, where the vision of 50 billion enabled devices being connected by the year 2020 caused much excitement. Concern was expressed, however, about the diverse cultural differences affecting European and the US approaches to the regulation and standardization of this new technology.

The European Union has established an Internet of Things expert group, with six subgroups that focus on identity, privacy, security, ethics, architecture and standards. Their goal is to issue a report by the end of the year that will be used for public consultation during 2012, with an impact assessment delivered by July and regulations determined by the end of 2012.

Concern was expressed about the European human right’s requirement for the “right to be forgotten” and the ability to “silence the chips”, which means that people can effectively go “off the grid” and manage their own “digital footprint”. In other words, individuals should be able to control what digital information is collected about them, know where it is stored in the cloud and who has access to it. This is in stark contrast to the US approach to Internet of Things technology which lacks any apparent coordinated activity or consultation.

This technological phenomenon is set to transform the nature of society and business as we know it, and on a global scale. To the average person, the Internet of Things is still an inanimate and intangible possibility in the same way that the Internet was back in the early 90’s. The fundamental difference is that the pace of development, innovation and adoption of this new technology will bring change far faster than regulations can keep pace with.

At the IoT conference in June, reference was made to three different technology cultures – those of West Coast USA, East Coast USA and Europe. The West Coast is about prototyping innovation and believing that the possible is inevitable. The East Coast is about profit and power, where the possible is threatening and lawyers line up to litigate. In Europe a precautionary and philosophical stance is taken to ensure the rights of people are not infringed, and the possibility is considered but its implementation is delayed.

Back in 1995, Nicholas Negroponte wrote in his book “Being Digital”: “we must knowingly create safe digital environments”. Today, however, the pace of technological change makes it very difficult for governments to define regulations that ensure the safety, security and well-being of their citizens, particularly when those technologies are global and worldwide cooperation and collaboration is required.

Why do I believe that a hero is needed for the Internet of Things? It’s the Double Power Principle: all technologies have the power for good as well as ill, and most of the time it’s up to us to knowingly lead the way and harness that power for good use. To enable the power of the Internet of Things, it would require someone with vision to capture people’s imaginations and inspire innovation and new ideas, to dispel their fear of this new technology and to take advantage of the abundance of efficiencies that this revolution can enable.

The probability is that it will not be one single hero in one particular country. Most likely it will be a collection of open innovators who are connected globally and share their ideas across communities. The concept of 6 billion people leveraging 50 billion devices for the purpose of solving global issues and enhancing the well-being of mankind is the kind of thing that myths are made of. Every myth has a hero – and the hero here would be one who could traverse cultural boundaries to ensure that the Internet of Things becomes seamlessly incorporated into our digital lives.

To obtain a copy of our white paper on “The Internet of Things” contact us at info@keysoglobal.com or call us at +1-847-478-1633.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Google Plus – A Tool to Transform Knowledge Sharing As We Know It?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I was a relatively early adopter of LinkedIn and Twitter and although I have a corporate KeySo Global Facebook page, I really live vicariously on Facebook through my wife who, let’s face it, has managed our friendships and social calendar for most of our married life!

Then along comes this Google Plus! I’m invited to join, not by a friend or family member but by a business acquaintance where I suspect I’m in one of his circles labeled “met and might be an interesting or useful contact”!

I have to admit, I’d been intrigued by Google+ and the statistics for its growth are staggering. The media, of course, are claiming it’s the return of the cold war as Google takes on Facebook – but is it? Or is it something far more compelling than just another social network?

This amusing but revealing video on YouTube caught my eye, so I read Pete Cashmore’s blog on Mashable on “10 Tips for New Users”. Then I acquiesced and signed up!

We live in a world of “digital bytes” that consume our attention every second of the day. My biggest challenge is to find a digital tool that blends into my life to make it simpler, and replaces what currently requires multi-tasking with an all-encompassing digital medium. Similar to that which Steve Jobs managed to do with digital music and mobile web access.

Chris Brogan identified some interesting technical, human and etiquette aspects related to Google+ in two recent blogs. Firstly, just because you find someone of interest to follow and put that person in a “circle”, there is no guaranteed reciprocity. Unless you are “circled” in return, those people don’t see any of your updates and you still have the challenge of getting on their radar so that they “circle” you!

The belief is that Google+ will attract more professionals but their plight is the “digital byte syndrome” – compounded with fatigue – from constantly setting up new profiles and being disappointed by limited results. Then there’s the nagging question – what can I share that’s new? As I see it, the opportunity is there to blend the news updates of Twitter with the professional perspectives of LinkedIn and the digital life observations of Facebook, creating an integrated digital montage that could greatly enhance business and personal interactions.

David Armano appears to have a similar take on the situation. He views Google+ as a social layer that cuts across media, search, communication and collaboration services. This social layer potentially provides a capability that integrates the best of Web 2.0 into personalized services. It’s fascinating to consider that this horizontal layering could give rise to unforeseen and potentially transformational implications for our personal and professional lives, and I believe that its impact will extend way beyond that which most of us could predict.

Could the challenges of corporate knowledge sharing, together with the horizontal layering capability of Google+, form the seeds of what we at KeySo Global call “Digital Wisdom Networks”?  These networks face the challenge of bridging the gap between the internal communities within an organization that protect “aggregate” (internal) knowledge and those communities outside an organization, where an explosion of “collective” (external) knowledge has been powered by social networking. Essentially, Digital Wisdom Networks become trusted circles of professionals, in- and outside of a company, who collaborate to share new information for the purpose of generating company specific solutions and fresh innovation. Google+ might be just the tool they’re looking for!

To find out more about Digital Wisdom Networks and how converged digital technologies can greatly simplify collaboration and knowledge sharing within your organization, contact us at info@keysoglobal.com, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global