[Guest Post] The Internet of Things, cloud and the potential for global innovation

By Nitin Dahad (@ndahad), CEO & Publisher, The Next Silicon Valley

In the past few weeks I have been addressing several areas which at first seem unrelated in a direct sense, but when you think of them together, it makes you wonder how business models, working practices and technology platforms are all rapidly converging.

To elaborate, I’ve been talking about the Internet of Things as being the next platform for global innovation; the potential from the interconnectedness of science, innovation and technology parks; the application of M2M communications in the cold chain logistics of the pharma and food industries… and the history and culture of Silicon Valley.

What’s the connection you might ask?

Well, let’s start with Silicon Valley where there’s a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that countries around the world try to emulate. Some parts of the world have managed to attract the big modern SV companies to create their campuses around local clusters. This is already evident with companies like Intel, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and many others in places like Sao Paulo, Recife, London, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Bangalore and Skolkovo, to name just a few.

This is creating a ‘connectedness’ of science and innovation parks and tech clusters. Some have been very successful in creating their own version or flavour of Silicon Valley (eg. Tel Aviv), but others might just benefit from the collaboration opportunities enabled by distributed working practices enabled by the internet.

Regional or global hubs – enabled by cloud and internet

This leads me to think that it’s also possible to create regional hubs or clusters comprising tech clusters from several countries in the region. For example, in The Next Silicon Valley, we’ve seen activity in the Middle East that attempts to bring a regional focus to innovation and growth. And in North Africa, it’s not unknown that Libya wants to be at the centre of the tech hub of the whole region (something that Egypt might claim to be already).

Or we could see industry wide ‘clusters’ formed from individual tech parks around the world that have common skills and talent pools. These global clusters are possible only because of the internet and the cloud giving them opportunities to collaborate on a global scale.

The internet and connectedness of everything is a key theme therefore that will drive global innovation. So I think that when the ‘Internet of Things Consortium’ was formed at International CES in Las Vegas this January, this could easily extend beyond just the connectedness of billions of devices.

To me, this connection refers to the ability to connect workflows and practices; and science parks and tech clusters to create a platform for true global innovation. This might also create an opportunity for austerity-hit countries and economies to create new means of innovating in public services and delivering more from less through the ‘smart’ concept.

This leads me to global supply chains

Cold chain logistics is a critical part of the business for a sector such as big pharma, where temperature-sensitive medicines and active pharmaceutical ingredients need to be transported around diversified climates around the world under strict, controlled conditions.

Safety regulations require them to log and constantly monitor temperature and any deviations throughout the journey. This is an ideal application for M2M or the internet of things, but thanks to the cloud, it’s possible to keep tabs on the whole global supply chain. Information can be shared across distribution hubs around the world and monitored at HQ  or anywhere else.

When I talked about the history and culture of Silicon Valley, I had observed the connectedness and closeness of talent, ideas and money as being the key driver of success for companies that started there. The connectedness of things therefore creates the opportunity for collaboration globally and across global supply chains. With this I think we are entering a new era that could be the next industrial revolution, and as mentioned elsewhere in the Telefónica Digital blog, a ‘global silicon valley’.

For more background on some of the ideas referenced in this article, visit www.thenextsiliconvalley.com.