Welcome!

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Economics and the "Internet of Things"

The Internet of Things Can Transform the World. Right?

I look at the IoT as having three great components: M2M, wearables, and grids. The components can also be seen (roughly) as enterprise, personal, and government/organizational.

I'll examine each area in follow-up articles. I'll start with the third, as it applies to research I've been conducting for the past three years and dovetails with the very high-level view of the IoT being taken by the largest technology companies in the world.

And I'm looking forward to discussing issues great and small with all in attendance at the upcoming @ThingsExpo, for which I serve as Conference Chair.

A Dismal Look
Smart grids, cities, and nations hold transformational potential, especially but exclusively for the developing world. It that holds the promise of fixing the millenium-old human problems of poverty, disease, violence, and poor leadership.

Right?

To examine the IoT's potential to transform society means starting with a big-picture look at economics, or the "dismal science," as it's lovingly known by its practitioners.

Global economics is not a zero-sum game, although it can feel that way when a competitor is eating your lunch. It can also look that way when comparing the extremes of the wealth of nations.

But I think the IoT can not only solve a particular company's problems but is also the key to long-term, fair-minded global economic growth and societal development.

A Brief History
We've come a long way since Adam Smith's first articulated his principles of enlightened self-interest and an "invisible hand" that guides economic development without the need for government regulation or intervention. Even seemingly altruistic acts are ultimately done with a personal, self-centered goal in mind, in this view.

The Keynesian revolution (ie, government stimulation is desirable) followed by a few decades of increasingly scientific, mathematically inclined studies of societies and their economics has led to much re-interpretation of Smith's original thinking.

Recent economic developments, led by Joseph Stiglitz and centered around the power of "information asymmetry" can lead to almost the opposite conclusion; there's nothing enlightened about self-interest, people with an upper hand won't play fair, and only tough, enforceable government regulation can address it, in this view.

Ha Joon-Chang is another modern-day economist who, in essence, thinks the developed world is not playing fair as developing nations struggle to lift their way out of poverty. I interviewed him a few years ago.

On a separate tangent, Dambisa Moyo (pictured) is another modern-day economist who has taken the controversial stance that altruism is, in fact, damaging to the people it ostensibly tries to help.

Does IT Matter?
Meanwhile, it's been more than 30 years since the personal computer entered the scene in a big way.

Yet to this day, academic research on "IT economics" seems sparse. Even though so many of us in the industry believe in the rising tide of technology that lifts all boats, and utopian dreams flow out of Silicon Valley and its mimickers with each new gadget or app, it's hard to find pure research that connects the dots between the aggressive use of technology, economic development, and societal progress.

There's plenty of history at this point. The 80s were famous for $1 trillion worth of PC sales, with no apparent productivity increase in the global economy. The 90s showed that the benefits of this technology took awhile to become apparent; they did become apparent once widely connected to networks and with the invention of the Worldwide Web.

The 2000s were a disaster, with the dot-com meltdown, the post-Y2K technology recession, the Great Recession, and war disaster by the US. Even so, enterprise IT-including tens of millions of personal computers sold each year-rose by the end of the decade to several trillions of dollars.

Now, as we progress through the second decade of the 21st century, we see cloud computing, Big Data, and the Internet of Things. It's time for economists to study the "IT effect" with rigor.

As a non-academic with perhaps just enough graduate school experience to be dangerous, I won't be the person who seizes this field of study and emerges as the Joseph Steiglitz of IT economics. But to paraphrase the Dennis Hopper character in True Romance, I find this stuff to be fascinating.

Relatively Speaking
Our research at the Tau Institute is socio-economic in nature, but as of yet lays out no grand theories.

We abide by the principle that technology is not only inevitable but inevitably good for the human species; though Google Glass today is seen as having great comedic value, the same twitters could be heard (well before Twitter) with images of people lugging around computers, talking on wireless phones, and seeking hotspots.

The big caveat, of course, is that our political and societal leaders don't abuse the wonders of technological progress. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

Yet the net gain to the world economy brought by personal computing devices is enormous. Mobile phones are the only way to communicate in much of the developing world, and are also used as virtual banks. Mobile computers in the developed world have surely reduced the number of people-an therefore, congestion--showing up to work every day in central cities.

Wireless connectivity has freed people to work and access information from almost wherever they choose, and it's cut down on the time people watch television-a development that cannot, on the whole, be deleterious.

(More to come in future postings!)

Contact Me on Twitter

Follow @ThingsExpo on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Kelly Looney, director of DevOps consulting for Skytap, showed how an incremental approach to introducing containers into complex, distributed applications results in modernization with less risk and more reward. He also shared the story of how Skytap used Docker to get out of the business of managing infrastructure, and into the business of delivering innovation and business value. Attendees learned how up-front planning allows for a clean sep...
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
"At the keynote this morning we spoke about the value proposition of Nutanix, of having a DevOps culture and a mindset, and the business outcomes of achieving agility and scale, which everybody here is trying to accomplish," noted Mark Lavi, DevOps Solution Architect at Nutanix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We're here to tell the world about our cloud-scale infrastructure that we have at Juniper combined with the world-class security that we put into the cloud," explained Lisa Guess, VP of Systems Engineering at Juniper Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
Consumers increasingly expect their electronic "things" to be connected to smart phones, tablets and the Internet. When that thing happens to be a medical device, the risks and benefits of connectivity must be carefully weighed. Once the decision is made that connecting the device is beneficial, medical device manufacturers must design their products to maintain patient safety and prevent compromised personal health information in the face of cybersecurity threats. In his session at @ThingsExpo...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...