CeBit 2016 robbed me of one of my illusions. I always thought the Internet of Things (IoT) meant that my washing machine would talk to me. Now however, I have learnt that my washing machine speaks with my provider, and I’m the last one that knows anything about it. What they speak about, I have no idea, but I do know that the provider knows when I do the washing and how often. They don’t know however, when I have to change the pump, so that the machine doesn’t break down.

This sounds like a good service, but then I find out that the provider generates 40% of their profit through the services they provide. The temptation – called “optimisation” lurks on the horizon, together with a new business model, such as “download 1,800 spin cycles for only 1 € a day”, or “an interface to your car for 2.95 € a month”. I have suddenly got a new housemate who used to knock on the door when he wanted something. Now he is so present that he sometimes knows more about me than I do.

How could I have been so naïve to think “things” were something neutral. Is the internet of things actually an internet of customers, or an internet of providers? If you think about it, there’s no difference. It’s about interaction BETWEEN customer and provider. In reality, there’s nothing to see. The 4.0 industry environment looks more like an internet of providers. We will have to wait for industry 5.0 until the insights of internet 2.0 are accomplished.