Everyone wants to own a piece of our homes. Amazon puts ads for Alexa and Echo in front of me every time I sign in. Google wants me to say, “Ok, Google” whenever I open the door. Siri keeps forgetting how to spell my name. And Facebook just introduced its Portal, a video chat device that can track faces and stream Spotify playlists. All this sounds pretty creepy. Buy why? Why are these tech giants – market darlings for the past decade – fighting to run my thermostat and ring my doorbell?
The fight is for data. The more they know about what we do and how we live, the more they can design, develop, and deliver products and experiences to make our lives more comfortable and convenient. We generate information with everything we do: when we get up, what we have for breakfast, what we wear, whether we tie our right or left shoelace first. Petabytes of data can be acquired, aggregated, analyzed, and applied to create and deliver customized goods and services. And the tech giants are fighting to get there first.
Because the fight for data is a winner-take-all contest. The more data they have, the better products they can create. And the better products they create, the more data they will have. That’s why Google and Facebook are so powerful. Google owns our work-search. When we Google a topic we need to know something: how to change the oil, how to update code for a web-hosting service, what’s the tire size for a 2016 Honda Accord. Facebook is the leisure space for billions of people, folks who want to keep up with their friends or listen to the news or find post some puppy photos from yesterday.
And there are parts of our home that beg for automation: thermostats, ovens, lights, security. We really can save on our utility bills if we just use the energy we need; we can be a little more secure with good alarm systems that also monitor moisture and maybe let us tell our pets to get off the couch.
Data is the new frontier, the most important resource in the world. And – unlike hard and soft goods in the “real” economy – data can both be created and destroyed. Our information economy has a new set of rules. We just have to figure out what those rules are.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”