|Issue:||Asia-Pacific II 2014|
|Topic:||The Internet of us|
|Author:||Jovy I. Hernandez|
|Title:||FVP and Head of PLDT ALPHA Enterprise|
|Organisation:||Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT|
Juan Victor “Jovy” Hernandez is currently the First Vice President and Head of PLDT ALPHA Enterprise, the Corporate Business Group of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) that serves top tier enterprise customers. Concurrently, he serves as the Head of Sales and Marketing for the Enterprise Business Group of SMART Communications and ePLDT (the ICT arm of the group). He also heads the Enterprise business of PLDT United States, Ltd. He is a Board of Trustee of the IT and Business Processing Association of the Philippines (I/BPAP).
Prior to joining the Philippine telecom giant, Jovy worked for The Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation. He also served as a Consultant to the President and the Director of Corporate Planning for the Rustans Group of Companies.
Jovy obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of the Philippines and his Master’s degree in Business Management from the Asian Institute of Management.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to improve lives, products, and ultimately better interconnect us with one another; the real excitement is really just about to begin. Within 20 years, we’ll have billions of devices- including smartphones and their wearable descendants—all ‘talking’ to one another on the IoT.
Put a chip or sensor into any conventional inert device, and you render it ‘smart’. That’s one of the basic underlying principles behind the Internet of Things (IoT), as it was first coined in 2009. The object of smartening up devices and everyday things back then was to track and gather information automatically and more accurately than naturally imperfect human inputs.
However, certain hurdles stood in the way of this organically grown supernet. Incompatibility of formats, diverse platforms, and the relatively high price of necessary hardware were among them. Mostly, these obstacles have been conquered, which is why I feel we are at the dawn of a new internet connecting not just smarter things, but more empowered workforces and companies as well. And we are doing so with an astonishingly unmatched degree of accuracy and reliability.
Two things stand out that will ultimately unlock IoT. One of them is already in our pockets.
The smartphone is the first and smartest of things in our hands today. It’s a super efficient compact base of sensors faithfully tracking your location, your social circle, your online buying preferences, even your health. And the smartphone by itself is destined to become even smarter still.
Within 20 years, we’ll have billions of devices- including smartphones and their wearable descendants—all ‘talking’ to one another on the IoT.
I think the next generation of devices certainly includes wearables as well as, and if I may coin a term—’implantables’ that is, nanotechnology in our bodies that serve as the near-perfect interface between people and even smarter devices. At the center of the IoT after all, are people who will not only receive more information than before, but will also have to process and react faster than before. These devices represent the convergence of all mobile devices in the sense that a central hyper-compact smart device. Here may be all we need to do and interact with will be on the cloud.
More value in connectivity
The other crucial factor of IoT expansion is the combination of cheaper and more energy efficient chips, and the value they add to any once ‘dumb’ product. Obviously, a smarter home appliance stands to make more handsome profits in a highly competitive market. Refrigerators, air conditioners, even light bulbs that ‘sense’ human presence (through your smartphone’s proximity), can scale down energy consumption accordingly. These may quickly become the new performance standards expected by consumers.
Smart TV’s are a good example of an innovation that has come at the right time for its sector. In my opinion, the Flat TV market was becoming increasingly undifferentiated due to the known tendency of expensive hardware technology to get cheaper over time. TVs that once sold for four thousand dollars now typically sell for about a quarter of the amount. Electronics makers needed new innovative features and capabilities that justified good old prices.
Part of the answer came in making TVs smarter—connecting them to the internet and morphing a geriatric device into a marvelous new hi-definition monitor or portal with an inherent size advantage. The same can be projected, probably less dramatically but with no less profitable impact, for countless other devices.
What we are realizing is the increasing dependency of hardware not just on software, but also on connectivity. IoT will literally tie everything together and in under a decade, we may even start taking it for granted, expecting even more seamless functions that require unimaginable broadband speeds.
Real infrastructure synergy
I am especially enthusiastic of the role my company and our affiliate companies in the utility sector may play in delivering more value to our customers.
Now it is worth noting that in the Philippines, as it surely must be the case in other emerging economies, every price movement in basic utilities at the very least stirs a heated public debate. These price increases are influenced largely by system losses or pilferage.
Maynilad our water utility, as well as Meralco our electric distribution company, both have historic problems of such wastage. IoT could very well be instrumental in comprehensively addressing these thorny issues once and for all.
For example, smart Maynilad water systems enabled with sensors in pumps or pipes may detect leaks quicker to significantly reduce wastage. In Doha, Sao Paolo, and Beijing, such systems have already reduced leaks by as much as 40 to 50%.
Similarly, a system engineered for Meralco may directly pinpoint energy pilferage and loss instantly, removing guesswork or human error from the equation if not entirely, then by an unprecedented and welcome measure. Clearly, greater operational efficiencies can be achieved from automating processes through smart meters and sensors.
What is more intriguing is the way allied infrastructures will be able to “talk” to each other with the same instantaneous coordination. Let’s say a major Maynilad water main breaks uncomfortably close to a Meralco substation. Interconnected sensors and activators can shut down the power, close doors and engage pressure locks to seal off the substation, saving the grid.
And if we’re talking about smart devices interconnected to the IoT, aren’t we also ultimately talking of smarter systems and smarter nations?- If managers and leaders will always be in the know as to how corporations or governments are running, then so too will employees and citizens. I believe that we are at the dawn for even greater transparency and accountability throughout all enterprise, and that this change will be as irresistible as it will be inevitable. Gone will be the days of fudged numbers and cloaking layers of incompetence. The public will finally get an accurate and up-to-the minute assessment of how their leaders are performing. Pessimists may always point to tightening government controls today on the internet, particularly in countries such as China, North Korea, Iran, and other authoritarian regimes, but I’m more encouraged by the movements for greater speech and ideological freedoms sweeping the world right now. Human ingenuity, innovation will face new barriers and controls but will find newer ways around them. Free human expression will eventually prevail.
Of course underlying it all will be wireless and broadband network strength and reliability we telcos are committed to deliver. We may even use such a system to monitor our network infrastructure, adding yet another layer of service robustness to the benefit of individual and corporate customers alike.
As the internet charges along, in its transformative wake it is often said that we live in more exciting times. As an enthusiastic witness to this decades-long phenomenon, I agree. But, with the advent of the Internet of Things set to improve lives, products, and ultimately better interconnect us with one another, the real excitement is really just about to begin.