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The mad scramble for the resources for the Internet of Things

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The mad scramble for the resources for the Internet of Things

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With a son going off to college in a couple of months, the topic of future-proofed careers has been a hot one.  He’s chosen well with mining engineering: an incessant drive toward miniaturization and an explosion of connected sensors will guarantee employment for decades to come. The next wave of technology is going to constrain resources, including those we pull from the ground, in all new ways.

Rare needs to be common

The world is already scrambling for resources to supply the needs of the Internet of Things and we will need vastly more resources in the decades to come. Those resources will be increasingly rare and needed in ever-higher quantities as we incessantly miniaturize and create a massive number of connected sensors. If smartphones caused a scramble for rare earth metals to make everything thinner, smaller, wider and more durable, the next generation of wireless non-human-operated devices will make the smartphone-driven needs look small by comparison.

IoT and net neutrality

The resources necessary aren’t just physical. Network capacity and access to quality wireless are about to become critical needs. One has to wonder if that goes into the current push in the U.S. to allow carriers to charge more for prioritized traffic, an end to the so-called “free Internet” and net neutrality. When sensors greatly outnumber people, someone needs to pay for the additional infrastructure and technology research to make it all work.  Why wouldn’t it be those who need it faster and in higher volumes?

The Internet itself is becoming a constrained resource and market forces will rise to meet that situation. Most of us won’t like it, but it is happening for a reason.

IoT and data access

Where Big Data (which is really a problem statement, not a trend) was about having access to much more information, the next generation of technology is about knowing even more in the moment and being able to do immediate, valuable things based on that information. Connectivity, computing resources and data itself are all vital resources that will be equally constrained in a world where there’s a massive premium for having the right data in the right moment (even though data will grow significantly, having the best data in the moment will always be constrained by resources). This is the fast data challenge you’ve been hearing about and the scramble for resources shows up in the buzz around API’s, in-memory computing, ubiquitous integration and cloud.

New kinds of scarcity

Any change this big creates new winners and losers, but also new norms for abundance and scarcity. The Internet of Things will make new markets and even old markets like mining take on new importance and will reward those who see what’s coming and get ahead of it.


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