The future of IoT spells blockchain and AI – the reality of blockchain today mainly spells cryptocurrency and hype

The future of IoT spells blockchain and AI – the reality of blockchain today mainly spells cryptocurrency and hype

An article by Nicolas Windpassinger**, Global Vice President of Schneider Electric’s EcoXpert Partner Program and the author of the IoT book Digitize or Die*.

The future of the Internet of Things (IoT) on various levels is an integrated one. Especially, the mix of IoT, blockchain and cognitive computing will lead to myriad new outcomes.

In my digital transformation and IoT book ‘Digitize or Die’, blockchain technologies and artificial intelligence are mentioned several times. The standardization of the IoT, for instance will create the conditions for more interoperability, connectivity, “digital trust” with blockchain technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) distribution between heterogeneous components and systems.

Blockchain technology, in many cases combined with AI, doesn’t just promise to be the missing link enabling peer to peer contractual behavior without any third party to “certify” the IoT transaction. It also answers the challenge of scalability, single point of failure, time stamping, record, privacy, trust and reliability in a very consistent way.

How the mix of IoT, AI and blockchain is shaping the future of business

I am convinced that blockchain and AI will unlock the promises of IoT. In fact, we already see a lot of this happening in the EcoXpert environment of smart building and energy systems where convergence is the name of the game and existing silos are being replaced by new solutions. IoT ecosystems take center stage in these solutions and inevitably come with advanced data analysis, using AI, to meet changing customer expectations.

In a broader IoT perspective, blockchain is increasingly joining that mix of technologies as well. An example of where it fits, on top of the mentioned ones, and where it is gaining attention is that of IoT, blockchain and security.

Obviously, I don’t stand alone in seeing that convergence of IoT, blockchain and AI becoming ever more important and shaping the foundations of the future of business. According to research firm IDC the future of Enterprise Resource Software (ERP), which it calls Intelligent ERP, even largely consists of a mix of IoT, blockchain and cognitive (with other factors). IDC predicts that by 2021 a fifth of the largest manufacturers will depend on a secure backbone of embedded intelligence, using IoT, blockchain and cognitive, to automate large-scale processes and speed execution times by up to 25%.

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies: the different realities and views of the enabling technology of Bitcoin versus cryptocurrencies at the World Economic Forum 2018

Many people confuse blockchain with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While blockchain, as an enabler, is really the technological foundation of these cryptocurrencies, its application areas stretch far beyond. This does not mean that cryptocurrencies have no future. However, that future, is not easy to predict and opinions largely vary.

At the World Economic Forum 2018, cryptocurrencies were a highly discussed topic. In the wake of high fluctuations across virtually all cryptocurrencies, opinions on Bitcoin and others went from high skepticism, calls for regulation and statements that especially the blockchain technology mattered to concerns regarding illicit activity in the crypto world. Yet, there were also forecasts that, after the current state of concern, volatility and, indeed, hype, cryptocurrencies would enter a far more stable stage and be here to stay.

The craze and hype regarding cryptocurrencies and ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) indeed is not really helping. January 2018 was probably one of the months that broke all records concerning the volume of opinions and news defending cryptocurrencies, skeptical and fear-mongering opinions and launches of more initiatives.

The cryptocraze: KODAKCoin and how to see your stock price boost

Kodak, the bitcoin effect
One of the most covered and surprising moves was that of Kodak. In my book I cover how Kodak missed the boat of digitalization, whereas its main contender, Japan’s Fujifilm entered the local market of Kodak, rapidly grabbing an increasing share of the market of digital cameras, which were invented at Kodak.

Yet, Fujifilm ended up taking the right decisions while Kodak wasn’t ready to embrace digital photography and, soon after, the smartphone with built-in cameras, two deadly technological disruptions that were dealt with entirely different by both companies.

Kodak is now also – indirectly – entering the crypto-world. With an ICO on January 31st, a company that licensed the Kodak brand kicks off a blockchain for digital rights management for photographers under the Kodak brand (KODAKOne) and a cryptocurrency called KODAKCoin. Moreover, a second brand license partner is launching a Kodak-branded bitcoin miner, Kodak KashMiner, with a wrong ROI model as time and computer power are tightly linked to Bitcoin’s ROI.

While the initiative cannot be compared with that of ‘open cryptocurrencies’ and there is a lot more to it as mentioned in my blog post on the Kodak initiative, the reaction on the news was a clear indication of this current cryptocraze.

After the announcement, at the Consumer Electronics Show 2018, the stock price of Kodak skyrocketed. It has continued to be relatively steady with occasional spikes until now. Whether it’s a strategy of Kodak or a side-effect of a brand licensing partnership as the company has several, for now is hard to tell. Whether the initiative(s) will work is even harder to tell.
Chart: Kodak stock price
What is for sure, though is that it seems to suffice to announce a cryptocurrency and an ICO to see your stock price go up in a way that clearly shows an overvaluation of it. Creating a cryptocurrency is not so difficult, just have a look at the list of all the recent ICOs.

The difficulty is to create an ecosystem that drives value into your currency, making it unique and trustworthy. A cryptocurrency is only worth the trust people put into it. And as far as IoT is concerned, the technology enabling it all, blockchain, looks far more promising.

* About the Book
IoT book: Digitize or Die by Nicolas WindpassingerUnderstand, master, and survive the Internet of Things with one simple and pragmatic methodology broken down into four steps. Digitize or Die is used by front-line business decision makers to digitize their strategy, portfolio, business model, and organization. This book describes what the IoT is, its impacts and consequences, as well as how to leverage the digital transformation to your benefit.

Inside these pages, you will learn:

  • What the IoT means to all businesses
  • Why the IoT and the digital revolution is a threat to your business model and survival
  • What you need to understand to better grasp the problem
  • The four steps your company needs to follow to transform its operations to survive

** About the Author
With 15+ years of computer networking industry experience, Nicolas Windpassinger is the Global Vice President of Schneider Electric’s EcoXpert™ Partner Program, whose mission is to connect the technologies and expertise of the world’s leading technology providers, pioneer the future of intelligent buildings and the Internet of Things, and deliver smarter, integrated and more efficient services and solutions to customers.
As a result of his work, Schneider Electric’s EcoXpert™ Partner Program has been granted a 5-Star rating in the 2017 Partner Program Guide by CRN®, which is part of The Channel Company group. The 5-Star Partner Program Guide rating recognizes an elite subset of companies that offer solution providers the best partnering elements in their channel programs.
Nicolas has been recognized by The Channel Company’s Top Midmarket IT Executives list. This annual list honors influential vendor and solution provider executives who have demonstrated an exceptionally strong commitment to the midmarket. The Channel Company, has recognized Nicolas as one of 100 People You Don’t Know But Should in the IT channel for 2017.

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