The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Will the Internet of Things lead to passive oversharing?


security compromize.pngLast week there was a twitterChat by CIO magazine and the Enterprise CIO forum on ‘the Internet of Things and the effect on the CIO’. During this discussion someone asked “Are there security issues (particularly for the consumer)?” Everyone can probably agree that there are significant concerns that everyone needs to be aware as they strap on more and more devices.


One of these concerns relates to a story from a few years back. Then, there was quite a bit of discussion about Super Cookies. This techniques uniquely identified computers by their software versions, installed software… the kind of thing that can be gathered via JavaScript. Nothing had to be stored on the computer itself, like a normal cookie.


A similar technique can be applied to uniquely identify a consumer. What devices are they carrying…? Essentially, tracking people by what emissions they are emanating or consuming. Like the Super Cookie, this technique can track and record user behavior across multiple sites. Devices like cell phones are always transmitting "here I am" infromation. BlueTooth and WiFi can also be set to respond to external emissions.


Once you can track individual’s movement and interests, you can use that to predict future behavior and act upon it – much like what was demonstrated in the site This site used individual’s social site usage to understand when they were away from home -- except in this case it is passive oversharing by our IoT devices that is the concern. Right now people view this as just a retail experience enabler so they are not freaking out.


But this passive surveillance is one area that will likely be scrutinized very closely in the coming years. Those who create devices need to be very aware of what is shared and utilize as much of the security capabilities that are available to keep passive sharing to a minimum.


It is not just about recognizing people who come into a retail area. For those who own devices, we need to be aware of what they emit, when and what controls are available to limit them. If it is possible to drive down a street and know which houses are occupied and which are not just by their IoT emissions, there are definitely people who will take advantage.


Engineering business?

MB900386081.JPGOne of the things I do when I work out is catch up on podcasts. I only listen to 5-6 a week but one of them is usually from the IEEE. This week they had one on Smart Bridges. Earlier, I’d done a post on the overlap of technologies across industries as big data and other techniques are applied and this seemed like a perfect example.


The Smart Bridges podcast made me wonder about the stress analysis that can be done in businesses today. We have a great deal of measurement systems in place, but can we use their information to greater advantage.


Many industries have seasonality that can put them under stress on a regular basis (e.g., Retail has the Holiday season) as well as scenarios they know they need to prepare for (e.g., Hospitals dealing with a crisis). Can we predict when they are likely to break? Are there efforts taking place in the civil engineering space that we should be applying to IT and business?


I view this as an area where the Enterprise Architecture profession and other parts of Service Science will likely expand in the coming years.

A few things happening before HP Discover

Today (right before HP Discover) the availability of the retail sleeve for the ElitePad was announced. By adding this hardware extension, a tablet that runs the full version of Windows 8 now can have additional features specifically designed for use in a retail setting, allowing them to connect to existing store systems and improve customer service.


The extensible nature of the ElitePad is an example the flexibility that needs to be designed into solutions to increase value and the business environment today and in the future. Last month the personal system group within HP announced a whole series of new machines (like the Rove).


The new HP Pro and HP Elite series desktop PCs were also announced, including space-saving commercial all-in-ones (AiOs) with rich multimedia and optional touch screens, act as the hub of enterprise productivity. You can see more about these in the press release.


This week there should be a number of interest announcements… if you're there have fun it should be a great opportunity to answer questions and learn. I couldn't make it this year.

3D sensing shifting the retail experience

retail.GIFEvery once in a while I get into a conversation with someone who thinks about sensors and says something like “Yes, I can see some uses for sensors but not in my business”, so I have to give some examples...

The Internet of Things in Every Day Life

futureplanning.pngEvery so often I am asked something along the lines of “What will the Internet of Things mean to my job?” I’d like to describe a now, near, future scenario that takes place in almost every traditional  IT shop I am aware of. Something similar could be described in other industries as well.


Today when a system goes down, organizations will usually alert just about everyone who has half-a-chance of being able to fix the problem, in the hopes that it will address the problem. This interrupts many people, and attention fatigue can occur -- even though the organization knows a number of things:

From the enterprise context:

1)      The extent and type of the problem

2)      The organization that is effected

3)      If any kind of failover scenario was automatically executed


From the employee perspective:

1)      Who is trained on the issue (from the HR training database)

2)      What they are scheduled to do at this time (from their calendar)


Very little of this already “known” information is used in the response and notification process. Yet, it could be used to limit the number of people interrupted from 10 to 1 or 2, with an escalation process to extend notification if needed, improving the productivity of everyone involved.


In the future, sensing data from the phone could provide real time employee location information to limit the notification even further. Many people would sign up to give up this bit of information to the corporation if they would be interrupted less often. Preventative maintenance solutions could be used to predict when problems are likely to happen or notify personnel about system usage trends so that for systems that have some degree of redundancy they can have their maintenance performed with no impact on the end user. Almost all IT components today have some level of embedded sensing.


As changes are made to the Bill-of-Materials, training gap notification could be scheduled, so that the support organization doesn’t become a bottleneck for the deployment schedule.


Similar activities in retail (identifying trends and adjusting marketing and ordering) are easily identified. Healthcare prognosis recognition also uses many of these same techniques.


We’re talking about an ecosystem of information that proactively predicts the future needs and tries to align the organization to address that future state. This is an area that IT organizations and be creative and increase the flexibility of the organization, rather than just respond to events.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation