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We are nowhere near realizing the incredible possibilities of the internet, says Dr. Michael Rosemann, Professor and Head of the Information Systems School at Queensland University of Technology. Speaking at last week’s SAP Global Business Transformation Summit before hundreds of customers, academics, and experts from over 40 countries, Rosemann dished up a menu of intriguing scenarios for what happens when the internet becomes ubiquitous. Some are already here, (read: online bovines make for healthier herds), others exist only in the imagination so far. Techies call it context-aware computing. Most everyone else, (including animals), doesn’t think about it at all—their lives just get easier from innovations like these:

  • Smart homes automate utilities, appliances, security, and more.
  • The HAPIfork, which I’ve written about earlier this year, alerts eaters to pace themselves at meals so they consume less food.
  • BMW’s parkatmyhouse app crowdsources empty garages and driveways to helps frustrated drivers in London find cheap parking spaces fast.
  • Connected cars transform the driving experience before, during, and after your journey.
  • Computer wearables like Google Glass are slowly gaining traction, while driver-less cars remain largely in the testing phase.

Dubbing this phenomenon asset management for masses, Rosemann says that we are at the very beginning stages of the consumerization of IT. Most systems aren’t context-aware but he sees people as the ultimate aggregation points.

“The future enterprise resource system is designed for families and people.

Right now, we still think in business models. We have customer master records

and we expect customers to come to us. But we’re starting to see that people

want to have a digital world on  their own terms. It’s time for companies to hand

over control to customers,  not just for co-innovation scenarios, but to co-innovate

this notion of digital capital and how to use it for what they want to do…it’s great to talk about

business transformation, but the ultimate KPI is the extent to which we transform the customer.” 

In other words, it’s consumers who will help realize the full vision of a company’s product or service. Crowdsourcing is a prime example of how online ecosystems create the service and market that’s life-changing for the customer.

Making the internet of things accessible to consumers opens a Pandora’s box of security and privacy nightmares. But that can be said of just about every innovation of the last 100+ years. Ubiquitous connectivity is no different. How companies go about blending their services into people’s lives will be the measure of success in this new era. The herd is onto something of titanic proportion. Soon to be playing everywhere: the internet of [your noun here].

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Read my full article on the SAP Business Transformation Summit 2013