The Internet Of Things

Today, this year’s HSG Alumni Forum on the topic of „The Internet of Things“ (IoT) took place in the Olma hall. The IoT or also the „Internet of Things, Services and People“ as ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer called it at the St. Gallen Symposium, is the confluence of the real and the digital world through the connection of basically everything. Moore’s Law has increased and will continue to increase data storage capacity exponentially. Based on ever smaller, faster and cheaper electronics it becomes profitable to put more and more sensors on everyday materials connecting them to other materials and the global brain known as the „Internet“. This continuous data explosion is estimated to form a „Trillion Sensor Economy“ until the year 2020 and will create about 19 trillion dollars of value in the next decade according to Cisco. In his 2014 Bestseller „The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The internet of things, the collaborative commons, and the eclipse of capitalism“ the American economist Jeremy Rifkin even goes so far as to proclaim that the decades of the construction of the IoT will be the very last years dominated by classical capitalism. Afterwards the majority of industries will have transformed into post-scarcity economies, which means not only that jobs get automated, but also that the overall sales volume of these industries will start to decrease due to (near) zero marginal costs or what Peter Diamandis calls the 6 D’s of exponential growth.

As the Alumni Forum shows networking has always been a strength of the HSG. With its industry specific future labs the university has now also put itself in a good position for the market of digital networks (and created the neat explanation video below).

However, let’s please not forget that the future consists of a confluence of different emerging technologies. At least from the perspective of a student the willingness and ability of the HSG to anticipate and adapt to those future and emerging technologies has still room for improvement. Take for example 3D-Printing. A personal 3D-Printer  is not yet paying off for students because A) the degree of capacity utilization would likely be very low and B) a certain know-how is needed. Why not create a “3D-Printing-Café” (analogue to a Internet-Café in the 90s) and add 3D-Printers as well as courses to the University so that students learn to apply this technology and use it for example to create instant product prototypes?

Or what about programming?

If we assume that in 10 years everybody is required to take programming classes why not start with this now? About 99% of todays students will still be in the work force in 10 years. Without the technical knowledge aka the “Wozniacks” they might just all become “Jobs” without jobs. Why has no HSG student created the “Tinder” for networking yet? Exactly, that’s why. And I will bet anybody who’s willing to take me up on this for a beer in the ad hoc that at the latest in 2 years from now people at events like the Alumni Forum or the Symposium will use a location-based networking App, whether it’s developed by a HSG student or not.

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