@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Rich DeFabritus, John Mertic, Elizabeth White

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.


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.

@CloudExpo Stories
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Masters Technologies, a leader in Network Visibility and Uptime Solutions, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Masters Technologies is a leading vendor in the network monitoring and high speed networking markets. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, Interface Masters' expertise lies in Gigabit, 10 Gigabit and 40 Gigabit Eth...
As software becomes more and more complex, we, as software developers, have been splitting up our code into smaller and smaller components. This is also true for the environment in which we run our code: going from bare metal, to VMs to the modern-day Cloud Native world of containers, schedulers and microservices. While we have figured out how to run containerized applications in the cloud using schedulers, we've yet to come up with a good solution to bridge the gap between getting your conta...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
@DevOpsSummit has been named the ‘Top DevOps Influencer' by iTrend. iTrend processes millions of conversations, tweets, interactions, news articles, press releases, blog posts - and extract meaning form them and analyzes mobile and desktop software platforms used to communicate, various metadata (such as geo location), and automation tools. In overall placement, @DevOpsSummit ranked as the number one ‘DevOps Influencer' followed by @CloudExpo at third, and @MicroservicesE at 24th.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
So you think you are a DevOps warrior, huh? Put your money (not really, it’s free) where your metrics are and prove it by taking The Ultimate DevOps Geek Quiz Challenge, sponsored by DevOps Summit. Battle through the set of tough questions created by industry thought leaders to earn your bragging rights and win some cool prizes.
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.