Every Industry Will Be Disrupted By Open Data Within 10 Years


Theo Priestley, Contributor

December 31, 2015

At an Internet Of Things conference this year I gave a speech on why traditional business models will be disrupted by IOT and Open Data. One such example I used was the car insurance industry, and how I believed that telematics was already dead. I was immediately pounced on during the break by a senior head of insurance at a UK challenger bank asking to explain myself in more detail. It was fairly simple.

The little black box we allow to be installed in our cars for the promise of cheaper car insurance are proprietary and owned by the insurer. As drivers we are not allowed access to the data we are generating, but we are happy to accept this situation. Yet what would it take to change the terms and conditions to allow us to analyse the data ? Or go one step further;

  • install a telematics box that we have purchased separately,
  • decide which datasets the insurance company is allowed to receive solely to calculate the insurance premiums
  • use the data to understand our own driving habits

This is self explanatory, and the consumer begins to exercise a certain amount of control over the information they generate and provide. For insurance companies, it would provide a little more in the way of trust from the consumer knowing that they are receiving only the information they need and no more. But going further, there’s little need for a little black box if the insurer deals with the car manufacturer to gain access to the data directly from the car itself, and the consumer is still in control. If connected cars are the way forward then insurers (if they are clever) should already be negotiating with the likes of Ford, Tesla, Honda, Nissan and so on in this regard.

But where does Open Data fit into this equation ? 

From a social and corporate responsibility standpoint, there is nothing to stop the insurer from sharing real-time sensor data they gather, analyse and extrapolate with other bodies concerned with road safety and traffic monitoring, in an open manner. This is not the passing of information for marketing purposes as they do today, this is giving access to data that would provide a service elsewhere without charge or hidden agenda.

If you consider the lifestyle example I painted a while back in a previous article, it combined a number of industries together all in a single use case.

  • Medical
  • Pharma
  • Insurance
  • Consumer Wearables and Homeware
  • Utilities
  • Automotive

The data itself is the key to unlocking a number of benefits and how we act on that data, and the Open Data movement will play a large part in the future of every industry, despite the apparent contradictory nature of the terms. Without this, there is no way to fulfil the above scenario, and no way for the internet of things to ever prove itself.

Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents, or other mechanisms of control.”

What individuals and industries need is a common platform for open data to exist. Every human, by right, must have a way to collate and hold the information they generate, and dictate who can use elements of this information for our own returns. And with an open data platform for every person comes the means to analyse the information. And it goes the same for businesses in every industry. If an evolved internet of things, or living web as I like to call its future state, is to ever achieve its full potential then the sharing of real-time and extrapolated data across industries has to take place in the same manner not be locked in proprietary systems under singular control of corporations.

It’s becoming a serious business, with Marc Andreessen already betting big on Samsara after investing $25m.

At Samsara, we believe that by making it easy to deploy sensors and analyze their data, customers of all types will be able to use them by the thousands, and in places they’ve never been used before.

“The end state is fairly obvious – every light, every doorknob will be connected to the internet. Just like with the web itself, there will be thousands of of use cases – energy efficiency, food safety, major problems that aren’t as obvious as smartwatches and wearables,” says Andreessen in an interview in the Telegraph.

What remains to be seen is whether Samsara and Andreessen understand that open data has to play a large part in the future state of IOT, or risk just becoming another platform player, no matter how attractive the price may be compared to IBM or SAP.

For example, OpenSensors.io is a startup dedicated to IoT and the value of open data. You decide whether to publish your data for all to access with an open data license or keep it for your private use. You can share communal data with the world or privately to build your own services, and services built in this way become agnostic to the device.

We’re making it easy for people to connect, deploy and remotely manage large deployments of sensors and internet-connected devices in the field at scale. We also provide the means for you to subscribe to and reuse publicly available real time data.

As open data allows every business to rethink how it uses data, and how it can unlock the value of that data for use elsewhere, it drives a different strategy and focus for any transformational programme of work. Both the data and the customer, partner, supplier experience becomes the central point of the organisation from which everything else must span from, including innovation.

But open data threatens those with proprietary platforms and rightly so. And companies like Apple are right in the firing line given their approach to locking in consumers to the Apple ecosystem, and their apparent stance on data privacy.

If future forecasts are to come true, and every physical object will have an embedded sensor connected and sharing data, it can only happen if that data is open and accessible across industries. Until then, no amount of sensors deployed will ever connect the dots in the way we hope it will.

Best wishes from me, have a great holiday season.

This article was written by Theo Priestley from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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