Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our Networked World - - The Money

There is always lots of money to be made at the threshold of complexity and chaos. Some firms and organizations will thrive in a world of smart systems and networks - - especially those good at making networks smarter, thicker, and more expansive. Pachube ( may be a firm of the future - - a firm making money at the convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Pachube offers a service that lets anybody make sensor data available to anyone else so they can use them to build smart services.

Pachube's business model looks at the following areas:
  • Manage Real Time Sensor and Environmental Data - - A platform for the Internet of things, managing millions of datapoints per day from thousands of individuals, organizations and companies around the world.
  • Graph, Monitor and Control Remote Environments - - Embedded real time graphs and widgets in your website -- analyze and process historical data pulled from any public Pachube feed.
  • Mobile and Web Apps - - The ability to make quick and easy applications that add value to networked objects and environments.
  • Share Data and Create Communities - - Based on an open ecosystem - - connecting electricity meters, weather stations, building management systems, air quality monitors, biosensors, and even Geiger counters.

Pachube is a very small fish in a very big pond. The IT giants have jumped into the big pond - - HP, Cisco, IBM, Google, SAP, Microsoft - - the Internet of Things has the potential to be as large as the Internet of Non-Things. Fiscal constraints in the developed world, exponential growth in the developing world, and sustainability goals in both highlight IBM's thought process - - "Making the old stuff run better will be the most important benefit of such systems in the short run."

The smart system and accompanying technology will be a game changer. The world of concrete, steel, pipe, and brick transformed into lines of code and dollar signs. For example, Google's PowerMeter, which not only lets users check their use of electricity online (i.e., application of cutting costs and saving money), but gives Google access to lots of data to analyze and not least, sell advertisements against (i.e., application of increasing revenue and profitability). Or sensors to tax pollution (i.e., generating additional revenue for fiscally constrained public organizations). How about analytics software to manipulate the behavior of the public by fine-turning charges for public goods to get citizens to behave in certain ways?

A key question regarding smart systems - - will the bulk of innovation be with the newcomers, such as Pachube, or with the incumbents? How fast will all this happen? The world of land, labor, and capital increasingly moving toward bytes, data and knowledge in the context of physical infrastructure. Look for governments around the globe to become protective of their data assets and embedded economic value.

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