Friend that Thing

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 and cognitive augmentation. It then sends the results to both the affected humans and things.



  • A global digital manufacturing leader invests $1B to monetize its new IoT and analytics platform, shifting from being a product manufacturer to an IoT development and deployment platform provider.
  • 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 
  • Monetization of IoT data through new services and products