Is the Internet of things going to become the Hunger games of the future?

The world of technology is awash with news of data and analytics and how the combination can be used to get actionable insights. I really get confused with the concept of actionable insights because the whole idea of insights is to know about a person or thing better and only because you want to do something with the information – especially in the context of business. I am yet to come across an enterprise that invests money to get insights not knowing  or wanting to do nothing with the information it gains.

Coming back to the Internet of Things (IoT), we are now getting into a regime where companies want to measure everything with the idea of using that data to predict outcomes which eventually should lead to bigger bottom lines. Let us look at a very simple case of utilities. There is a lot of investment happening in this area around collecting data at a granular level (device level) to understand consumption patterns which will eventually help to improve the bottom line in many different ways; one of them being hedging future power purchase.

If you look at this from a different point of view, we might be looking at a future where if you are not predictable you might have to pay a higher price for your needs. Let us assume that 80% of the population follows a particular pattern (which is mostly the case) there is a good chance that they might get a better price or service plan as compared to the rest. So if one wants better prices or service they need to try and fit in with the 80%. This is already happening in many industries but at a macro level which still gives the consumer the benefit of the doubt. With micro level data capture the situation will change drastically as the margin of error will reduce and control will become tighter.

Let’s take this a bit further and assume that toll roads start using the same principle ( there are some in the US already doing this) so now to reduce your toll expenditure you need to leave home at a fixed time and return at a fixed time.  We can extrapolate this concept to other parts of our life that will eventually get measured and what we look at is a life that if not lived within the limits of permissible prediction error will become far more expensive.

Eventually freedom which is supposed to be free will now have a price attached to it. Not sure if the data / IoT revolution is going to lead to another freedom revolution of sorts in the coming future. This might become very much like the Hunger Games where not playing by the rules gets very expensive but more importantly the rules of the game can keep changing.

Let’s wait and watch.