Technology & innovation - What’s your “connected” number?

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John Stineman is a West Des Moines-based consultant and executive director of the Heartland Technology Alliance. 

A recent analysis in PC Advisor shows that about 2.5 billion people (that’s billion with a “b”) worldwide use the Internet. That’s out of 7 billion. Those are big numbers.

At a recent tech conference, I heard a presenter from Microsoft say that there are now 1.4 connected devices for each person in the world. That’s nearly 10 billion connected devices. Now that’s a really big number.

It starts to get really interesting when you look at the small numbers.

Let’s take a look at the tech essentials in my family’s connected world: smartphones (2), tablets (3), laptops (2), desktop (1), e-reader (1), smart tv (1), smart set-top boxes (2), iPod (1). That’s thirteen for a family of four (two of whom are under the age of ten) – that’s 3.25 per person. And growing.

Those are the things we readily see as connected. What else? Well, for starters, the satellite set-top for our televisions (3), our security system (1) and our gas and electric utility has a connection (1). That’s five more.

What does the future look like? A lot more.

Connected refrigerators (these are already available in stores), connected home surveillance cameras (startup dropcam is aggressively advertising a low-cost solution), connected “household management” services and devices that manage the thermostat, lights and locks, and so on down the line. Cameras are being sold with a 4G connection. Connected cars are on the horizon that not only have Bluetooth connections, but have their own mobile connection. The consumer potential alone is huge, not to mention what it means for commerce (that’ll be a future post).

No wonder mobile Internet traffic is projected to increase 300% by 2017. That’s a good thing, as long as we create an environment that fosters more network build-out than we have today.

So, what’s your connectivity footprint? I’m guessing it’s greater than 1.4.

-John Stineman


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Technology & innovation - An introduction

John Stineman is a West Des Moines based consultant and Executive Director of John Stineman
the Heartland Technology Alliance. Follow him on Twitter at @heartlandtech5.

Technology is everywhere. From the smart phones in our pockets to the touch screens in our cars to the Netflix stream to our television screens, connected technology has changed our lives and changed our economy forever. For every person who worries over the increasing tendency to be staring down at the device in one’s hands instead of talking with the people around them, there are many others who are exhilarated by connections that are stronger than ever before. You’re driving the tech economy, and maybe you didn’t know it.

There is a lot to it. Technology is not just about the wonder and efficiency it brings to make our lives more convenient or our jobs easier or more productive. It's about enabling innovation. Fostering the next game-changer. And for us here in the Midwest, it's about leveraging technology to our economic and societal benefit. In April, named the Des Moines metro area one of the “10 most unexpected cities for high tech innovation.”

While technology and innovation tend to find a way to break through in one form or another nearly everywhere, it is clear there are ways to help them thrive. 

We are on the cusp of an era of innovation. As a hub for insurance and financial services, we are beginning to get noticed for our growing startup scene. Des Moines is home to several new and noteworthy tech startups, including Dwolla, a mobile-payment company that does tens of millions of dollars in business each month – a whole new take on financial services.

Our business leaders are now talking about "scaling" technologies and nurturing a "startup ecosystem." Our elected officials are asking people who wear t-shirts and jeans to work what they need to succeed.

Yes, things are changing and it is an exciting time for Central Iowa. This new IowaBiz blog topic - Technology & Innovation - aims to push forward a critical public conversation about what we need to know and do in order maximize the benefits of this new era by capturing and shaping opportunities to grow our economy, and position our communities for the future.

We'll tackle how technology is being leveraged by non-technology companies. We'll look at how our schools are working to foster innovation so local students are as technologically savvy as their urban, silicon-centric peers. And we'll look at how connectivity and the migration to the next generation of the Internet network is a driver for future innovation and the knowledge-based economy.

Finally, we won't be afraid to examine how public policy affects all of these things. The world is changing. Fast. Let's be a part of driving the change!

-John Stineman

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