Friend that Thing

Expand your social network with smart, collaborative “things”

Operational technology and IT are fusing into a new cyber-physical reality as the Internet of Things becomes part of everybody’s social context. With IT getting physical, we’re more and more connected not only to people, but also to omnipresent devices and increasingly intelligent things. Disruptive opportunities lie in these connected products, with the promise of a direct route into the hearts and minds of consumers, service engineers, and business partners. It brings a whole new dimension to social networks, for future lists of social “friends” may soon contain some unexpected guests. Chip me baby, one more time.


  • “Things” are more intelligent and better connected than ever before. Mixed with AI, they learn, adapt to their environment, and share their experiences.
  • Cars, road sensors, engines, fridges, health equipment, and even vending machines are becoming serious participants in both social and value networks.
  • With wearables and the IoT elements around us on a daily basis, some of them may “know” more about consumers and their context than the consumers do themselves.
  • IoT development platforms allow for the creation of “digital twins,” leveraging the vast intake of data for predictive analytics, cognitive augmentation, and experimenting with AI. It then sends the results to both the affected humans and things. The concept of “I3oT” thus evolves: the Intelligent Industrial Internet of Things.
  • AI deployed at the very “edge” – where information technology and real life meet – through trained models, working often autonomously on embedded AI and analytics runtime technology.


  • A US-based grocery chain deployed smart shelves in its stores, using sensors and dashboards to measure inventory life and send shoppers product information on their mobile phones. Out-of-stock replenishment time was reduced by two-thirds and its out-of-stock SKUs by 50% on any given day.
  • Toyota Friend enables people to interact with their cars, dealerships, and Toyota itself. In addition to prompting recharges whenever the battery is running low, it enables the car to “tweet” service information to social channels.
  • Michelin uses IoT technology to collect various sensor data from tires in use. Engineers in its “road usage laboratory” analyze the data in direct connection to selected driver groups with different levels of experience.


  • Better understanding of the actual use of products by consumers in their context, improved product management, innovation, marketing, and customer service
  • Using the IoT as an alternative, direct channel to communicate and engage with customers
  • Improved matching of human resources and assets in an operational context, like when using predictive analytics for maintenance, logistics, and manufacturing
  • AI-based, conversational front ends can put a more “human” face to devices and machinery, making them easier and more compelling to interact with
  • Monetization of IoT data through new services and products
  • Anticipate the impact of new telecommunications networks (LPWAN Sigfox, Lora, … and 5G) associated with the “edge” cloud, that will allow to connect billions of objects and human  in real time