Article • April 2, 2024

Demystifying the Economy of Things (EoT)

A person typing on a futuristic computer.

The speed at which technology advances is breathtaking. Businesses must constantly change and adapt to ensure that they grasp the new opportunities that emerging technologies provide or be left behind. Among the plethora of buzzwords and technical terms, the Economy of Things (EoT) emerges as a transformative, if not revolutionary, concept. It envisions a future in which devices not only link and communicate, but also transact, negotiate, and make autonomous economic decisions.  

But, as we approach this new digital frontier, what does EoT mean for businesses, and why is it becoming an essential part of the current corporate lexicon? 

History and Evolution of EoT 

The Internet of Things (IoT) began the march towards digital transformation path. When people ask, “What is meant by the Internet of Things?” The simple definition is the interdependence of everyday objects. The first IoT device was a vending machine at the University of Wisconsin in 1982 which could report on sales of soft drinks. Jump forward 40 years and a smart thermostat can adjust room temperature based on your preferences, or a refrigerator can notify you when you’re running out of milk.  

These are classic examples of IoT, in which devices are linked to the internet and collect and share data to improve the user experience. However, as technology evolved, so have the ambitions and visions of innovators. As a result, the EoT was born. 

What is the difference between the Economy of Things and the Internet of Things?   

IoT focuses on device connectivity and data sharing, EoT takes things a step further. Devices within the EoT ecosystem do not only communicate, they also engage directly in economic activity with other devices within the ecosystem. This transition marks a change from basic connectivity to economic agency. It is the distinction between devices that can communicate and devices that can trade.  

Core Concepts of EoT

EoT is about devices having the capability to perform transactions without human intervention. This definition can be broken down into: 

  1. Economic Autonomy: EoT devices can make independent economic decisions, moving beyond mere data exchange. This autonomy is the result of a variety of reasons, including each device’s own identity. Essentially, this is crucial in allowing for autonomous economic activity within the EoT ecosystem. 
  1. Decentralised Negotiations: Devices communicate and negotiate transaction terms with other devices withing the ecosystem directly, without the use of intermediaries. 
  1. Value Exchange and Monetization: It’s not only about data; EoT emphasises value exchange – drawing in customers with compelling solutions enabling the access and monetisation of data and the access of their data – paving the path for new business models. 
  1. Trust and security: It is critical to ensure that interactions are secure and verifiable, which is accomplished through improved encryption and unique device identities. 
  1. Adaptive Learning: Devices in the EoT ecosystem are constantly evolving, learning and optimising their decisions depending on interactions and their surroundings. 

The Impact of EoT on Business: Exploring Real-World Applications 

The EoT clearly stands out as a major opportunity for enterprises in the fast-expanding digital ecosystem. But how do business exploit the opportunities offered by EoT to both their and their customers benefit? Here are some real-world examples that demonstrate EoT’s revolutionary potential. 

  • Supply Chain Optimisation: Companies can track an item’s location and condition in real time, improving supply chain transparency. This allows customers to easily follow their online orders from manufacturing to delivery and helps importers comply with regulatory regimes that require container and package contents verification. Instant settlement improves policy compliance and location accuracy. EoT allows devices to independently negotiate ‘space capacity,’ optimising logistics. 

  • Energy Management: Energy companies can optimise grid distribution, depending on real-time demand. For homeowners, this means that their solar panels will sell excess energy to the grid on their own, earning them credits. Additionally, the use of battery passports improves energy management. Battery passports provide efficient surveillance of battery usage and performance, ensuring that energy storage systems be used optimally and for the longest possible time. 

  • Smart Retail Solutions: Retailers can dynamically adjust product pricing based on a variety of factors. Shoppers experience these as real-time discounts or offers, especially during off-peak hours.
  • Automobiles and Transportation: Automobile manufacturers offer value-added services such as in-car payments and electric car charging. This implies that drivers can pay for gasoline, electric charging or tolls straight from their vehicles, eliminating the need for manual involvement. 

Vodafone DAB and Chainlink Labs’ partnership stands as a testament to the potential of EoT. We’ve demonstrated the transformation of global trade through blockchain innovation, enabling seamless logistics management and transparency in supply chains. 

Navigating the EoT Landscape: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Way Forward

Embracing EoT within corporate frameworks has the capabilty to unleash the disruptive economic  power of networked devices. This path, however, whilst promising, is not without its challenges. 

There are problems to resolve, from providing tight security protocols to supporting seamless device interaction and breaking the silos (integrating diverse systems and data sources through a common device identity). Nonetheless, these complexities provide the way forward to ground-breaking innovation, increased efficiency, and broader growth, highlighting the benefits of adopting EoT strategies. 

The Role of Pairpoint in the EoT Landscape

Pairpoint stands at the forefront of the Economy of Things revolution. We’re not just spectators; we’re actively sculpting the digital landscape of tomorrow. Our commitment is to help businesses with the specialised tools and insights they need to thrive in this evolving world. 

In conclusion, the EoT emerges as the next frontier in the incredible digital growth. But what actually distinguishes EoT? It is more than just linking devices; it is also about creating new business models and changing brand-customer connections.  

EoT will enable automotive companies, for example, to become recurring service providers to their drivers, going beyond technical capabilities. This is a thriving, self-sustaining digital economy that extends beyond the basic IoT. When businesses question themselves, “Is IoT the wave of the future?” they find an answer in EoT’s disruptive potential.  

For those preparing to leap into the EoT era or just want to know more, feel free to reach out. Together, we’ll shape the future of the digital economy.