By Era Kraja, Pablo de la Mora, Shuqing Zhao, and Taylor Jarrett
As the world gets tied to social media, and numerous aspects of our everyday life involve technology, big data becomes more and more omnipresent and keeps expanding at an exponential rate– 90 percent of the data that exists today has been created in the past two years (EPIC, 2016).
Advancements in technology are making the data much more recordable. As technology and access to internet becomes widespread, people search, post, upload, and download a lot more than before, leading to a huge growth in the amount of data. Devices such as phones and smartwatches, gather data on the customer’s habits, health and more. The more data collecting devices or mechanisms are invented, the larger the amount of big data available in the world, which sequentially pushes for improvements and innovations in technology and expansion of the Internet of Things. In other words, not only are companies affected by the ever-increasing trend of big data, but they are also helping broaden the horizons of the internet of things (IoT).
Internet of Things
The Internet of things, a huge buzzword for the time being, refers to the internetworking of physical objects and devices, which enables the exchange and digital analyzation of information. This technological idea is now entering the Growth Stage (See next section), and it is still attracting tremendous public attention. To the common audience, it can be perceived as a “digital nervous system of the world”; to tech lovers, it is praised as “infrastructure of the information society.”
While “Internet of things” might sound like just another high-tech term that has come around in the past few years, gadgets that form part of the IoT have probably entered your life a long while ago. Have you ever tried out activity trackers that take in your heart rate and skin temperature as you jog along? Have you used map apps that identify real-time traffic data and determine the fastest route during rush hours? Or maybe you’ve tracked your package on the website of a logistics company? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’ve already come across the internet of things.
It has been estimated that there will be nearly 20.8 billion devices on the Internet of things by 2020 (Gartner, Inc., 2015), and more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of things by 2020 (ABI Research, 2013).
When did all this start, and where are we heading up next?
The lifecycle of technology is the gradual journey that a tech product takes from its exciting introduction day to the inevitable decline age and eventually demise. What are the stages it goes through, you ask? Let’s take a look at them separately.
This is the phase when the technology is still in the pipeline, but a Beta version, or a prototype is already ready. Revenues hit a low in this phase, because there’s no to little profit and very high expenses. The length of this phase depends on how innovative or revolutionary the product is– innovative technologies usually experience a longer introduction phase, compared to products that are merely updates of existing products.
The current application of IoT in healthcare, in the retail and automotive industry are examples of technology in this phase.
2. Growth Stage
The technology has been launched and it is stable. It is experiencing rapid growth and high volume of sales as the market is making it a trend. It’s price is high, and so is its demand, which explains the escalation of revenues.
IoT in the manufacturing industry, for instance, has entered the growth stage.
3. Maturity Stage
Now the product is starting to get accepted by the wider public. However as this happens, it also loses its status as a trend, and becomes a commodity. Competitors are catching up fast, which consequently slows down the revenue. A different scenario would be when the manufacturer releases a new upgraded product which aims at replacing the old product, and targets the same customers.
The use of IoT in the automotive industry is an example of a technology that has ‘matured’.
4. Eventual Decline
The technology is now considered a commodity. Competitors have caught up, revenue is diminishing and the product is generally in decline. The manufacturer will eventually stop making and selling the product, because demand will decrease with the introduction of new technologies.
Prospect of IoT
As the confidence in the Internet of things continues to build up, more and more investors are stepping in to promote developments in this rather new field. Not only private sectors see potential in its growth; governments were also quick to recognize the importance of this burgeoning technology. The UK government, for example, allocated almost 45 million Euros of its 2015 budget into the research of IoT (HM Treasury, 2015). According to GSMA (2015), China upped its annual investment in IoT to RMB 10 billion (approximately 1.5 billion Euros) in 2014. The Chinese government has even established state-owned IoT enterprise zones such as the Chengdu Internet of Things Technology Institute in Sichuan province (Consultancy.uk, 2015).
From a realistic point of view, IoT technologies that are now within the introduction phase are more prone to damage and disruption than those that have entered or already overcome the growth stage. Innovations that have been in use for a longer period, and those that have brought a more significant added value to human life are much more likely to stay in use.
This might also be the reason that many enterprises start by incorporating the use of Big Data in smart devices that already have a network in place. Smart phones now serve as a platform for various IoT innovations, especially as a major information output, to communicate the final product of data collection and analyzation to the users.
On a different note, it is important to point out that although the growth of big data analytics has benefitted businesses tremendously in terms of revenue and market shares, it has failed to secure consumers their privacy rights. The concept of privacy relies on the well-informed consent of consumers on the use of their private data. However, this notion does not always go hand in hand with “big data,” which has the “potential to eclipse longstanding civil rights protections in how personal information is used in housing, credit, employment, health, education and the marketplace.” (The White House, 2014)
Users’ relationship with data should increase, not deflate, their opportunities, thus their consent is vital to data gathering. Nevertheless, data is now being used and reused in ways that could appear inconceivable to the user at the time when the data was collected. Personal data is gathered and traded in the economy, and there’s little to no regulations on how this data is used or secured (Porter, C., 2016). This typically leads to a small group of people having full access to user data, facilitating customer profiling and ad targeting.
Apart from that, the idea of anonymity is also deteriorating. As mentioned above, based on your searches, downloads, etc., companies (especially giant corporations, such as Google) now not only know minor details, such as what your favorite salad dressing is and what you got your mum for her 50th birthday, but can also figure out your name, you age, and your current workplace. They can easily hunt down their user’s identity by examining the relationships between this massive amount of information available.
IoT and Our Future
The world’s continuing digital revolution continues to provide new opportunities for the advancement of our lifestyles. The massive change accompanying smart technologies also pushes new challenges concerning data collection to the forefront of our collective focus. Indeed, the increasing interconnectivity of our daily devices intertwines all aspects of our lives, including business, leisure, entertainment, and even politics.
As advancements in technology are discovered and subsequently integrated in our daily lives, consent of the individual must be taken into account to decide which data we deem acceptable to share, and which is too personal for distribution. The benefits of smart technologies afford us tremendous advantages to be applied in our professional, personal, and public lives. Yet, it is of utmost importance that our data be respected and not fall into the wrong hands. A world full of smart objects also poses a unique threat when the technologies hosting and receiving mass data might be in peril. While these technologies provide humanity with continued advancement, the eventual dependence on these technologies can create disastrous opportunities for those that wish harm.
However, we can expect the process of technological advancement to mold our ideas and practices involving private, consensual data collection as we go along. The opportunities underlying the growth of smart technologies are endless. As such, a substantial amount of trial and error will preface the equilibrium sought between advancement and abuse of smart technologies.
Do you agree? Share your thoughts with us.
EPIC – big data and the future of privacy. (2016). Web. Retrieved 24 Oct. 2016, from epic.org
Budget 2015: Some of the things we’ve announced. (2015, March 18). Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016, from http://www.gov.uk/government/news/budget-2015-some-of-the-things-weve-announced
Gartner’s 2014 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Maps the Journey to Digital Business. (2014, August 11). Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016, from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2819918
GSMA. (2015). How China is scaling the Internet of Things. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016 from http://www.gsma.com/newsroom/wp-content/uploads/16531-China-IoT-Report-LR.pdf
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Porter, Claire. “Little Privacy In The Age Of Big Data”. The Guardian 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.
The White House. Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values. 2014. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/big_data_privacy_report_may_1_2014.pdf