Insights from a Talking Washing Machine

The amount of information that  hyperconnected sandboxes will produce will ultimately generate greater insights that lead to innovations and value. When your washing machine can talk to your phone which can talk to your water provider, we will find ways to use those resources more effectively. Power companies could connect to thermostats like Nest’s to generate and track previously inaccessible metrics. What data has allowed are ways to streamline and make more efficient systems that in the past were improved by adding more. Look at Google Analytics and email automation. By connecting these two, we now have a powerful email marketing tool.

Traditionally if you wanted to reach more people, you either had to work more hours or hire more marketers. The data analytics affords with robust automation systems like Eloqua let one person do the job of many. This same thinking applies to the internet of everything. Instead of spending money on buying more equipment – sprinklers, for example – you can purchase software that connects to those sprinklers so you gather data that will allow you create greater value per sprinkler than you could before. That means that traditional manufacturing and commodities companies need to consider how to bring their products into a digital ecosystem that takes advantage of this new connectivity. It’s the old “work smarter, not harder” saying in action. This is at the core of GE’s industrial internet, which Harvard Business Review defines as:

“GE’s initiative proposes an open global network of machines, data, and people to generate a plethora of new business opportunities and outcomes-based business models. It focuses on providing data synthesis and analysis and designing real-time and predictive solutions to optimize the complex operations of its customers.”

What is being described here is the digital sandbox, which will be mandatory for every company that wants to be successful. However, to do this, they’ll have to implement structures and operations that are seemingly risky. The crowdfunded innovation, the inverted pyramid, and digitized machines and processes are all necessary in order to achieve the innovation and returns that GE and the like are generating. The industrial internet is simply one aspect of a larger movement to build the hyperconnected sandboxes that will produce the innovations that create Breakers — the leaders not the followers.

If you think this won’t work for your business, I encourage you to consider otherwise. Domino’s Pizza is currently working on building a similar digital sandbox that will improve everything from baking to delivery times. In Brazil, they’re working to create a central city-wide computer grid that connects all of Rio de Janeiro’s electronic systems from street lights to security cameras, ostensibly creating a smart city. This is a fully collaborative process among the citizens, creating crowdsourced data that would otherwise take astronomical funds and resources to accomplish. For example, teenagers are attaching digital cameras to kites and taking aerial photos of hazards throughout the favelas (slums) in order to mark dangerous areas. These photos are uploaded to a cloud-based map and made available for the public.

I use these examples to show the wide-ranging applications and industries that are utilizing hyperconnectivity. If you can digitize a kite to aid in making a city safer with that information, what other possibilities are there?

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