The term Internet of Things introduced earlier distinguishes between the past generation of the internet — the internet of people — and a new level of ubiquity and interconnection, which will allow direct linking and communication between “things” (devices, products, sensors, apps, etc.) without human intervention. The interactions will be driven by data accessible to or produced by these “things.” As we have not found a simple definition of the term “Internet of Things” we refer to this phenomenological definition in our Glossary although there are several suggested definitions. Clearly we are talking about a system of systems. The complexity of this network will far surpass what human intellect has created before, and the rate of innovation and growth will accelerate.We can expect a rapid growth in dynaxity. “Dynaxity” is an artificial word created to express both growth along the complexity dimension and the accelerating rate of change (dynamics) [Rieckmann 2000]. Dynaxity is a property of living and social systems. The Internet of Things and its subsystems will exhibit growing dynaxity. This dynaxity cannot be mastered by mastering the subsystems of the Internet of Things. We need a holistic systems approach.
- Health: tighter connections between physicians, hospitals, rescue centers, and patient supervision, prevention support by using modern technologies.
- Mobility: a sophisticated charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, an intelligent system to orchestrate the related services, a new industry with connected vehicles, charging or mobility service providers, and utilities. Also individual mobility will be embedded in a wider multi-modal mobility framework connecting much better with public transport.
- Production: taking the pull mechanism of lean production to the extreme, real-time decisions will derive from event-driven supply chains and diagnostics.
- Energy: Energy Management optimized to balance energy demand and consumption regionally and globally, at utilities, at industrial, at communal or at private consumers.
A complete list cannot even be anticipated now – new systems and features will emerge at an increasing pace. Some examples can be found in this top50 list or at postscapes. Turning this optimistic science fiction scenario of “benefit for all” into a global reality still requires a lot of hard work – technologically and socially. The required connectivity does not come free, and common approaches and standard practices are needed to make devices “connectable.” Highly efficient and more intelligent ways of turning an incredible volume of dynamic data into the intelligible information are required for services to function. Existing systems must be integrated right from the beginning to avoid “legacy traps” or geographical “exclusion zones”. And these are merely some technical challenges.
Over the last 30 years a new, somehow transcendent virtual world. has been created by software and the internet. The virtual world includes the huge space of content on the internet; the social interactions via eMail, chat, or social software; the adventures in computer gaming; 3D product design with CAD; information system and ERP in business. Up to now the virtual world has been connected to the real world via humans and their computers. In the Internet of Things & Services this connection will not necessarily need humans. Therefore, the virtual world and the real world will merge. Are we entering the Matrix? No, we are in control. And if we use the technology empathically it offers new degrees of freedom to solve problems in the real world.
Everything around us changes. And it changes ever faster. These developments are potentially beneficial, because they will force us to a paradigm shift in thinking — at the level of the individual, the team, family, company, and society. J.F. Kennedy referred to the necessity of change: “We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. … Today our concern must be with that future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do.” [Kennedy 1960]
More than 50 years later the challenges have not lessened:
- Urbanization continues to destroy rural infrastructure and megacities grow uncontrollable
- Destruction of rural infrastructures through natural or man-made continually causes famine
- Ecological challenges are compounded by wasteful energy utilization
- Energy and water are scarce
- Financial systems appear to be in free fall.
This is not an attempt at a complete listing of challenges, and, besides, they interact with each other – there is no easy “divide and conquer strategy”. However, in the same way these challenges combine to appear more complex at ever decreasing cycles humankind can now learn to act as a global mind and ensure systemic use of its resources. Only then can “Dynaxibility” match Dynaxity.
The are promisingly many indicators of movements in such a direction:
- Strengthened humanist movements — grassroot level based
- Concern about ethics, as expressed for example in Transparency International
- Emphasis on creativity and understanding diversity as precondition
- End of Social-Darwinism
- Vastly expanding scientific boundaries and rediscovery of human consciousness
- Purposeful communities.
These developments are not independent of concurrent scientific and technological developments as we can clearly see by looking at industry today and just a decade or two ago. Value orientation begins to replace profit orientation. The concepts of value creation in industry today are either based on traditional business concepts or on open business ecosystems — two worlds poised to clash.
Will the Internet of Things & Services address real world challenges? What do you think?
Let us look to other turbulent times in history before we come back to this.