Connected objects: context of an ongoing revolution

5 questions asked of Julien Holtzer, a specialist in the digital transformation of companies and their Information systems.

Connected objects are becoming more and more common in our day-to-day life. What keys do we need to decode this trend?

We are currently helping some sectors move towards hybrid equipment and software solutions. This phenomenon has been accentuated by the arrival of smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, the vectors for the distribution of a multitude of new services.

It is within this environment that connected objects have emerged, allowing data to be captured, transmitted or stored. The services and objects provided are of more value than the equipment in and of itself. The complexity of a sensor is no longer justified – its day-to-day use is more important because it affects the durability of the services it offers and, therefore, the viability of the economic systems that depend on it.

Connected objects comprise parts that are known and have been mastered for dozens of years, i.e. home automation, industrial sensors, medical devices and automobile or aeronautical equipment. But these have been given a new lease of life both by technological progress, which has made them cheaper, smaller and more accessible in terms of design, production and programming and by the new low speed, but long-distance communication networks which, above all, have very low consumption, going as far as being wireless & battery-free.

These are covered in the media by the concept of the “Internet of Things”. They take on the form of new objects in the user’s environment, either in their day-to-day life or at their workplace. They share information or enable quick, controlled and automated actions to be carried out via an “internet” network, as we wrongly say, since other private or alternative networks may be used.

Despite their growing reputation, connected objects still require support far upstream of the projects, since they raise many questions – fears, even – which could quite simply lead to them being flat-out rejected.

Are there any uses that you think are particularly promising, owing to their added value or the opportunity they give companies to distinguish themselves?

By nature, connected objects mainly concern B2C activities in all sectors, that is to say that companies can use them to boost their client relationships. And these would be well advised to develop uses around connected objects that third parties make available to users.

The current model, however, is one in which the users buy their objects themselves, which reduces the possible volume of use cases and generates economic niches which do not meet the full potential of the Internet of Things. The objective is therefore rather to aim towards a general consumer needs approach, combining several services and pieces of connected equipment.

Our first mission regarding connected objects, moreover, concerned a marketing thought-process, aiming to increase the value of a product or a service via better use and capitalisation of the information that the connected objects can produce.

In the car insurance sector, for example, the “No paper; no errors” approach already present on a standard input terminal, may also be delivered to drivers via connected objects which will automatically send the information (police numbers, secure IDs of people and vehicles) in the event of an inspection, change of contract or incident, thus simplifying the procedure, allowing it to be better received. Finally, the business use case does not change (it is still a form that is sent within the same processing chain that has been in place for years), it is the way the action is carried out that changes.
On a larger scale, in distribution, after a first transformation around drives, a new development is emerging and the French players are turning to connected objects in the home – in the kitchen and the bathroom, etc. – faced with the threat of a giant, such as Amazon and its Dash solution.

The key factor in the Internet of Things is reactivity – combining a hardware dimension with a software dimension is a concern for large groups, which need to find partners in order to get involved.

We will touch on the following issues in the rest of this article – Connected Objects (2/2): The challenges and perspectives of an ongoing revolution:
– The multiplicity of connected devices and the exploitation of data cannot be implemented without causing a certain number of problems. What are they and how should we respond?
– So what happens to the business model?
– The transformation by connected objects has only just begun. What are the prospects and challenges for the coming years?

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Julien Holtzer

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