Why I’m so optimistic – ‘The Internet of Things’ (Advanced)

Internet_of_ThingsThe end of the old world, the beginning of a new one. That is what the ‘Internet of Things’ promises. Every business manger, technologist, consultant, product developer, designer and yes, teacher and trainer, needs to understand the implications of the ‘Internet of Things’.

It’s a rather large, complex and difficult topic to address in a training room. Few trainers will dare to speak about it. However, I have had some fantastic results, with news of my training material making all the way to the top CEO’s of some of the largest German corporations. I will therefore endevour to present some methods, tools and ways you can also do this.

Firstly though, to teach anything you need to become familiar with the topic. So, what is this ‘Internet of Things’ all about? The internet of things is essentially a goal to fully connect the Internet to a worldwide energy network, and to a manufacturing network, and finally to distribution centres (ports, airports, warehouses, railway networks, trucking networks etc).

Allow me to digress for a moment. What’s one thing you notice when you see an shipping accident at sea on T.V.? Half the containers float around for about a week or so. Many of them float because they are empty or half empty = wasted space. I sent a small package to the U.S. last week and it cost over 40 Euro for things that were less than 20 Euro in the box = excessively expensive. How many people have tried to take a train with Deutsche Bahn but found it costs too much? It costs more to travel to Wolfsburg by train than it does for one person to rent a car and drive there, almost twice as much = ridiculously expensive. Disbtribution is where a lot of energy, time and space is simply wasted. It’s inefficient, slow, wasteful and often excessively expensive.

Then along comes 3D printing in this new ‘Internet of Things’. Here the concept of ‘Bits to Atoms’ comes into play, which sounds rather sci-fi, but basically means the transformation of free designs and images (uploaded to the internet by people using free open source software) into 3D products by people with 3D printers in your local area. With fully connected distribution networks these products can be shipped or assembled around the world or even somewhere near you home at almost near zero marginal cost. Near zero marginal cost means close to the cost to produce something with a small amount of profit on top. Individuals around the world will be able to ship products in rented container space for example or will be able to make use of empty space in buses, trains and cars far more efficiently than before. Self-driven cars are already passing the testing phase according to Google and Audi. Designs are being shared, energy and many other things will also be shared in this new collaborative commons economy.

I could talk for hours about the ‘Internet of Things’ but my prodigy and a professional I rather admire has already created such a video to speak further about it. Watch this YouTube video by Jeremy Rifkin apltly named the ‘Near Zero Marginal Cost Society’. You can download a full free copy of the text with time markers here:

Trainer notes: Given the length of the video and the article, you may want to consider getting your participants to watch the video and read the dialogue at home in their own time or as a study activity. You could look for a one or two page article on the internet of things to use during the session. Jeremy Rifkin is a slow, thoughtful speaker, who generally expresses himself in a simple yet elegant way. The idea is get you to begin talking about and understanding how the internet of things will impact business. One thing you could do is list the advantages and disadvantages of the internet of things. Privacy vs Comfort. Encrpytion vs Transparency. Environmental Protection/Shared Energy vs Scarce Food, Water and Oil/Gas. I am going through the text slowly with some participants at Siemens, and although we go off-topic and discuss many possibilities, we do try to get through at least a page each session. If you have any questions about any of the text or need help about how to explain it or just need some good examples, feel free to email at: http://www.berlinbusinessenglish.com/contact.php

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