Connected toasters that list themselves on eBay if you haven’t used them for 90 days. Smart homes that sense who is present based on their behavioural pattern. Cars that talk to eachother and can brake in unison. What was once the stuff of science fiction is now already a reality, even if one not yet experienced by the majority of the population.
Those three examples were all provided at yesterday’s DataIQ Future by three different companies and are actual, live technologies. We will be publishing full insights from keynote sessions over the coming weeks, but here are three trends that could be identified across the day and which link sectors as different as retail and aviation, or data as varied as smart meter readings and driver mood.
1 - The internet of things is now a thing. So is governance
Different figures were given across the day as to how many devices are already connected to the internet around the globe and what that number will be by 2020, but as a general rule of thumb, it is likely to be three or four for every human on the planet.
Regulation is proving to be a major driver of this innovation, rather than engineering breakthroughs or even novelty. In the UK, every home is meant to have a smart meter installed by 2020. Across the European Union, from 2018 all new cars will have to be equipped with eCall capabilities to summon the emergency services in the event of an incident (and similar laws are being introduce in Russia and Asia). New rules around insurance risk modelling mean providing telematics or smart home security to customers is a new business opportunity.
All these devices throw off huge amounts of data - 25GB per hour from a connected car, for example, which is equivalent to 100 hours of video. And that data falls under the definitions of personal information introduced by the General Data Protection Regulation since it can be used to identify individuals with relatively little effort. So organisations will not just need data analysts and data scientists to make sense of it all, they will also need data governance - and lots of it.
2 - No company can do it alone
Ecosystems and multi-stakeholder partnerships are the new normal. Even the most high-profile brands will need to ensure that the connected services they provide are device-neutral, feature-rich and future-proof. That means building a platform that provides access to third-party services as well as first-party ones. What this also demands is yet more data governance, since the flow and ownership of the information generated by service users becomes much more complex.
When a driver wants to access a music streaming service of which they are already a member via the in-car platform, for example, which do they see as the first-party data controller - the streaming service or the vehicle service? Explaining all of that clearly and succinctly in privacy notices is likely to be challenging.
3 - Show me, help me, do it for me
Connected devices and multi-partner ecosystems are capable of doing many sophisticated things that can be very helpful, time-saving or enjoyable. A car that negotiates the best insurance policy on your behalf is a very real possibility within a year or two.
But humans still need to see what is happening and intervene or decide for themselves. That places two demands on service providers. Firstly, the interface has to be highly intuitive and interactive with all the stumbling blocks removed. (It currently takes 14 steps to set up smart lights via Amazon Alexa which the company itself recognises is a barrier to adoption.) Secondly, there needs to be an evolution of the service to help users build their skills and confidence. That means starting with simple views into the data, then providing automated support and finally automating routine tasks.
What was cutting edge just two years ago is now live and in-field, as many speakers during yesterday’s event demonstrated. What the next two or three years will require is a lot of hard work by data analysts and data scientists, together with experts in behavioural economics, to translate the technology and data into great customer experiences that ensure those connected devices do not end up put away in drawers or listed on auction sites.