Imagine a world where everything from products to people, spaces and services is connected and together operates as a living network. ‘Meta Products’ is the next generation of  ‘living’ products, services and spaces referring to the potential of the Internet to reach everywhere and to be embodied in everything.

Q: What do you think is the core value for this? For whom?

ALK: We have barely started to grasp the potential of the Internet, never mind its side effects. The current value on a societal level is a set of collaborative tools: increased transparency, open source, real-time sharing, knowledge exchange, social networks and living breathing digital communities. With that we see the rise of dialogue-driven innovation – impacting business models now, but even more so in the future. Furthermore, the rise of cloud computing provides an important means of supporting expansive Internet traffic, reducing operational costs for applications and storage.

On an operational level, we see new processes and more efficiency. However, the industrial structure of the Internet of Things is quite complex, involving many sectors (e.g. terminal vendors, system integrators, and network operators). Only through alliances of sectors can the Internet of Things provide complete product and service solutions. Standardisation is important for industrial alliances, and is also the basis of systems integration.

The core of the Internet of Things is to seamlessly gather information about objects in the physical world and use the information in multiple applications. Information collection about objects’ and goods’ origin, location, movements, physical properties, usage record, and context can help enterprises improve business processes, and also create new ones.

Needs within a variety of sectors can be addressed, for instance: remote health monitoring and diagnostics, safe and independent living, intelligent traffic management, improved environmental monitoring and adaptive energy management. The information can add an even deeper layer to Ambience Intelligence – we already see a cross platform of intelligent smart living spaces from Philips and Nokia.

Q: How would you define a meaningful experience?

ALK: Meaning is a very elusive term, representing different things to different people. One of the more plausible definitions of meaning is to understand it as a system of sense making. Meaningful experiences engage people on a deeper level. My multidimensional vision is very closely linked to the evolution of meaning as a socio-cultural system – a system that reinforces our value universe of beliefs, norms and traditions, connecting them to physical objects and experiences.

Q: What challenges do you see in Meta Products for their mainstream deployment?

ALK: The cost of any innovation or development is very often the greatest stumbling block. Emergent technologies and their fast adoption are clearly calling for new business models. Leaders must engage a strategic mindset when preparing for this challenging new environment. They must hold a people-centric vision, viewing the user not as a passive spectator and consumer but as an active interactor, creator and producer.

Therefore, engaging a whole-brain vision in the concept and process stage is vital. Companies must develop products and services that connect the scientific and social dimension in a relevant way while considering the emotional dimensions and their impact and relevance to people’s value universe. So the challenge I am talking about is to connect people to what really matters, empowering and inspiring them to make the most of every moment.

Q: Imagine developing a Meta Product and how would you reconcile the different economics behind the physical and the web part?

ALK: The key is to predict where the real value is, and who is willing to pay for it. It is no good if you are the only one perceiving value. We must remember that our business will become part of an information system that talks back to us. This information system becomes an added asset that has the ability to capture, compute, communicate, and collaborate around stored information.

These “smart” assets can make processes more efficient, give products new capabilities, and spark novel business models. One widely used business model is ‘freemium’ – you get the basic for free but you pay for the scaled up version. Here again, we will see a new wave of models – ‘freemium 2.0’ – in order to create even more value for consumers as well as businesses.

Book Contribution: Meta Products, November 2011 >>

1. The Internet of Things
2. The Living Network
– Booreiland >>
3. Imagine a scenario where…
5. The Collective use of Environments – Booreiland >>
5. Everything is Connected

Inspirational Sources
Cisco IBSG, Jim Cicconi, AT&T, Steve Leibson, Computer History Museum, CNN, University of Michigan, Fraunhofer


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