Value Vector: How Data Monetization is Creating a New Economy for Connected Industry

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The notion that new economies and business models can be developed through the monetization of AI and IoT data is incredibly compelling. This article takes a look at the evolution of IoT data marketplaces and data monetization to date, and explores some of the offerings, alliances, and questions generated.
 
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The evolution of IoT has moved from the early stages of connecting devices to the Internet to data gathering and analytics, largely thanks to the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence. The next trajectory is the trading and selling of that collated data, moving to eventually to a 'Machine Economy' where devices will trade everything from storage, computation/analytics to electricity and sensor data. Key to this progress is value and data monetization - "Why incur the effort expense of generating and collecting IoT data if you’re not going to monetize it?” Current use cases of data trading include agricultural, smart city data, and vehicle data, and we see the emergence of a suite of platforms, marketplaces, and trading spaces are emerging with the aim to enable companies to sell or exchange data.

Other offerings such as Samsung Artik, Dawex, and Terbine do not rely on blockchain technology for real-time data retail. For example, Terbine utilizes IBM cloud, Watson IoT and AI to facilitate a means to monetize the massive volumes IoT data available. Their marketplace consists of datasets of real-time sensor information from a wide variety of sources, including various government agencies, universities and corporations throughout the world. 

Comparatively, many emerging marketplaces are using blockchain (and related) technologies to facilitate a means to buy and sell data. The key benefits posited are the ability to make micro-payments at extremely low cost via efficient payment methods and immutable records of data transactions. One example is Streamr who are creating a decentralized means for just about anyone to buy and sell data. Their open source platform allows data owners to easily connect to the peer-to-peer network and stream their data and uses blockchain smart contracts and tokens to facilitate transactions and incentivize data exchange respectively. As they note:

"Your automobile will soon be producing data about congestion, road quality, and mechanical feedback. If you choose, this can all be sold to highways agencies, fellow drivers, parts manufacturers, and smart city operators who can use it to make automated road repairs, schedule maintenance, and redirect traffic in real-time."

A similar offering, DataBroker by Data Dao will be deployed on the main net of Ethereum in July. Their plan is to include diverse data such as weather services and forecasting, enabling modeling and analytics. One of their first use cases involved data from shipping containers from the Port of Antwerp – If insurers were able to buy data around temperature, and discover for instance when the temperature control failed on a ship, they would know when things went wrong and appropriately manage a claim. 

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 Image from IOTA data marketplace 

 

Then, of course, there's the envy of many who wished they got there first, IOTA with their data marketplace, launched in November 2017. They contend that their public Distributed Ledger architecture in opposition to the Blockchain (known as Tangle) ensures data authenticity and an audit trail of data as their Ledger enables tamper-proof data.

What's interesting is to see how different companies are aligning themselves with various solutions. Streamr's supporters include Hewett Packard enterprise, Nokia, and OSIsoft. Databroker DAO is supported by Reekoh, Panasonic, and Actility. IOTA's data marketplace includes the participation of over 55 companies participating in the Data Marketplace, including Bosch, Fujitsu, and Philips. Interestingly, two companies (Microsoft and Schneider Electric) are no longer listed as participants in the IOTA Data Marketplace - have they moved their allegiances elsewhere or are they working on their own ideas?   

 

The evolutionary journey is slow and cautious with more questions than real answers 

Notably, none of these blockchain related offerings have started actual trading, having all been in pilot mode for an extended period of time. This means we've had plenty of time to ponder and generate questions:

  • How will the data marketplaces compare with each other? 
  • How will each leverage their competitive advantage?
  • What happens to a company's data if an exchange is closed or sold to another competitor?
  • Can data be on-sold after the original purchase to a nefarious third-party (presumably something the blockchain embedded marketplaces are claiming to prevent
  • What if a data marketplace is hacked? 
  • How many data marketplaces will proliferate? Hopefully, it's won't be as onerous and the proliferation of competing IoT platforms. 

With is clear is that we're at the very cusp of IoT providing a new stream of revenue through data retail, and that what is established now, if done right, will set a precedent for new economies. 

 Further reading:

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Momenta Partners encompasses leading Strategic Advisory, Executive Search, and Investment practices. We’re the guiding hand behind leading industrials’ IoT strategies, over 100 IoT leadership placements, and 17+ young IoT disruptors. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about our Connected Industry practice.