Opinion

Why the Generation of Things is more valuable to UK economy than Internet of Things

4 min read

24 April 2015

A few weeks back I attended a technology partners update session and was handed an intelligent power plug; one I could control from my iPhone and that would allow me to turn things on and off from anywhere on the planet. I became a fully paid up member of the Internet of Things (IoT) club.

However, on returning home, I couldn’t easily decide which electrical item I wanted to be able to turn off from a hotel room in San Francisco, or measure its energy use from a bar in Boston. Dazed and confused, I decided the only option was to give the plug to my 11 year old daughter; who quickly decided that if she plugged her bedside lamp into it, she wouldn’t have to stretch two feet every night to turn it off and could do it from her iPod touch. The genius of a lazy 11 year old always seeks to amaze.

Anyway, the $50 plug has been put to good use, but, I have to say I haven’t rushed off to buy anymore just yet. Neither has my daughter asked to save her pocket money to extend intelligence in her bedroom any further.

That same week, Logicalis UK published its Realtime Generation 2015 report, the annual survey of the social, digital, technical and educational aspirations of the UK’s 13-17 year olds, a group that the report re-titled the Generation of Things (GoT). This was due to the generation’s ubiquitous digital outlook on life and the vast array of digital devices and data at their disposal. Most importantly, it was because of the attitudinal changes the generation had embraced.

One finding that jumped out at me was that the GoT’s attitude to personal data.

Some 72 per cent of the GoT are happy and willing for their personal data to be shared with organisations as long as that organisation uses that data to provide them with a more personal or improved service. Six in ten would be confident to share personal biometric health data to be shared with health providers, again as long as that sharing resulted in a tangible health benefit.

Read more about the IoT:

And with an average of five devices each, and with 25 per cent already having £256 of personal storage in their hands or pockets or on bedroom floors, the resulting opportunity to use data to provide this generation of digital explorers with services and service personalisation we couldn’t even dream of is now going to be big business.

In fact, in a recent report Microsoft said that they believed the UK economy could have a £53bn data dividend if we could align new data stream, new analytics, and more people.

The attitude of the GoT attitude makes me think that the problem isn’t going to be the willingness of people to fairly exchange their data for value, and Microsoft may have even underestimated the potential size of this market by underestimating the next-generation of digital information creators.

The question is, can business and government demonstrate that they deliver the value my daughter will expect and convince her to freely exchange her data for her benefit? If they can, then businesses can turn the value she wants into value for their shareholders, and government can transform her life and transform the quality and cost of public services.

If not, I expect she may turn off her data as easily as she now does her bedroom light.

Chris Gabriel is CTO at Logicalis UK.

Image: Shutterstock