Like any business, small businesses should be concerned with the changing landscape in the economy and what opportunities that landscape has to offer. The question, “how one should live” comes to mind when taking into account the potential of creating an economy where more people are freed from work. Who exactly might free from work where devices, appliances, homes, cars, etc., are connected to each other and to the world wide web? What kinds of services will those individuals need or want? What will be the value add?
I suspect that as more devices are connected to each other and to the internet, the individuals that will leverage this experience first will be in the upper percentile of income earners. High income earners who put a high premium on time and have devices that exchange data with each other and bring increased efficiency to home and professional life may have need in the future for their networks to connect with two types of services: self-actualization services and services that protect a consumer from being at the mercy of technology.
First, the self-actualized services. You may ask how services like self-help classes or hiking expeditions leverage the internet of things. I believe that as internet of things technologies free up people to do other things, there may be more time freed up for services that explore a consumer’s personal development. The consumer willing to take the self-exploration path may want more intimate growth services that only a small business can make available. I also suspect that these more personal services will come at a premium that only high-income consumers can obtain. These types of services will answer one part of the ethos question, “how one should live.”
Second, there is another part of the “how one should live” question that small business can address in an internet of things ecosystem. The internet of things may reinforce the narrative that given the power of the internet, more transparency regarding network management and more privacy protections will be needed. The internet of things itself raises the issue of whether people should expect to live in a world where their data is more transparent and their privacy increasingly eroded. Some consumers will push back on this narrative and may rely on the private sector to help them do this. I sees an opportunity for small businesses that are expert in data analysis and privacy protection to address this need.
Unfortunately for consumers, public policy is reliably slow to catch up to changes in technology and the internet of things will only expand the edge provider space, an area of the internet that is notorious for threatening consumer privacy i.e., Facebook and Google.
Small businesses should prepare themselves to address the “how one should live” question whether providing personal growth services and network protection services.