The mesh, coming soon to a device near you, won’t just change your technology experiences. Actually, it’s not just coming to a device—it’s coming to every device, even those that aren’t currently wired. This ubiquitous network of interconnected devices will radically change your business, your vertical, and the economy as a whole.
There are a few parallels with what the Internet did to businesses, verticals, and the economy over the last quarter century. The pattern of what the mesh will do is visible in the pattern of what the Internet has done. The Internet is sprouting multi-billion dollar industries like app development and online gaming that didn’t even exist in the age of dial-up. Likewise, the world’s largest hotelier today owns no real estate and the world’s largest taxi service doesn’t own a single car.
While the patterns are similar, the mesh’s impact will be more deeply felt. This is in part because of its ubiquity, as networked devices will include not just terminals and handhelds but wearables and every other part of your home, business, machinery, and public infrastructure. The other difference is that the mesh’s transformations will be wrought much more quickly than those brought about by the growth of the WWW.
How can this be? Partly because the birth of the mesh has been much more decentralized and crowdsourced in nature, in contrast to the early days of the Web. Further, the technology for the mesh already exists and is widespread—we don’t have to invent the technology as we go like we did with the Web. You can already see how this is playing out as cycles of technological transformation have shortened from decades to years to months.
If the change is as fast and profound as we envision, those who don’t think ahead strategically will be flat-footed. True, it’s impossible if not foolish to predict inexactitudes. But it’s past time to get your head around what the mesh might mean. Are you prepared? Is your IT department prepared? Who is counseling you about what business opportunities will run around the corner at you when the mesh starts to flourish?
Today’s exercise is to help you think through some possibilities of the mesh.
Remember, it’s not just about how it will affect your business or vertical—it’s about how it will open up new horizons and disrupt verticals to reshape the entire economy.
In a recent brainstorming session, our team playfully asked, “how might we?” As in, “how might companies create new offerings to make money in the mesh economy?” These hypothetical offerings’ outcomes range from lifesaving to whimsy, and we share a few of them to illustrate the diverse potential that you and your IT department should be thinking about:
- Burger Buddy: By coupling real-time, personalized two-way communication with location tracking and inventory control, this app will help restaurants move inventory while it’s fresh and keep seats full round the clock, while providing invaluable navigation and time-saving tools for diners on the move.
- TrainSafe: This technology will embed mesh-enabled microphones in train wheelsets to provide railroads with real-time diagnostics, enabling them to intervene and refresh their equipment before it needs two-thirds of a billion dollars in urgent repair and replacement costs.
- BarSense: This ride-share app will incline people to get home safely by providing decentralized, disintermediated connections between ride seekers and sober drivers. The mesh makes it possible to anonymize users within parameters that they can choose, such as female riders seeking only female drivers, or drivers seeking only riders who are on their current route, and the mesh-enabled trust attributes will make these rides much more comfortable than some of the Uber trips we’ve been on.
- SeatSellout: While the secondary ticket market is prognosticated to grow by 40 percent in the coming four years, it might not be Ticketmaster driving the bus. How about a geo-locating, personalized system that automatically matches and prices venues’ empty seats with last minute seat-seekers’ preferences and locations?
- RentRigor: The mesh will make possible decentralized, fair trust systems that don’t rely on discrimination-prone attributes like race or income. Landlords would love to have a system that computes who is a trustworthy renter – and renter behaviors and opportunities overall would improve if such a system existed.
- FineWine: This will evolve both retail practices and the human experience to make the wine aisle comprehensible to all, without users having to stare into their phones. Picture a row of Malbecs in which every rack is giving an instant, digital thumbs-up or thumbs-down recommendation, based on the preferences of the person walking by.
- FactoryForeman: In the high-heat, high-exertion industrial environment of the future, meshed wearables will track workers’ physical condition and productivity—telling them when it’s time to take a break and automating employee scheduling down to the individual.
These are just a few ideas and like any entrepreneurial brainstorm, some of these are better than others. But this is the kind of thinking you need to engage in or get help with, in order for your company to capitalize on the new opportunities of the mesh.