It's been a few weeks since our fine capital city was taken over by bright-eyed techies from all over the continent as part of Europe's largest festival of innovation and technology, London Tech Week. The incredible talent and creativity that came together amid valiant announcements from the Mayor that London would become the "world's leading smart city” was eye-poppingly impressive. Every corner of the city was brimming with workshops, pop-ups, talks and immersive experiences; all the sexy subjects and trends were covered and no technology stone was left unturned.
2017 even saw the emergence of London's newest and biggest tech expo, TechXLR8, and the expansive floor plan at the Excel Centre was divvied up by trend: VR/AR World; a section on Connected Cars; IoT World; and Apps and Robotics all provided a smorgasbord of hot topics for participants to get involved in.
But, in the spirit of London's new-found competitiveness in this growing sector, what was top of the topics? Having a listen in to social conversations around the LTW event, research by digital growth agency, Greenlight Digital, discovered that out of the leading tech themes, the IoT was the trendiest trend of the year, with over a quarter (28%) of conversation centring around it.
However, as Greenlight Digital so brilliantly put it, whilst the hype of the IoT is now completely justified with products such as Sonos, Apple Watch and Amazon Echo spreading like wildfire across households, consumers aren't necessarily "ready to talk to their fridge." In fact, it's been predicted that the IoT will generate US$300 billion in revenue by 2020 and the number of connections will increase by 8 billion in the next four years, so while the biggest companies are rapidly turning the IoT market into a reality, Greenlight Digital CEO Andreas Pouros offers some intelligent insight about this topic and beyond:
"Names such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are the game changers and are starting to make consumers feel that IoT, automation and robotics are normal. That being said, the Internet of Things is still in its infancy and will need to innovate further... In parallel, but now getting as much attention as it should be, is Blockchain, which allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. This is because it has the potential to be the most disruptive technological advancement since the Internet. Brands that dismiss cryptocurrencies and Blockchain tech fail to understand that this isn't about currencies, it's about the easy movement of 'value,' and value can mean anything -- contracts, startup funding, storage, etc. Its limits are our imagination."
We couldn't agree more. The Internet of Things, Blockchain and other digital disruptors are already making big waves in the energy sector and yet, the door for further innovation is still wide open and it is up to us all to harness the potential for even greater disruption in order to pave the way for a smart, clean and sustainable future.
Through the IoT, consumers have begun to take matters into their own hands and are already shaking things up by controlling their energy consumption in a more decentralised way, thereby forcing utilities to rethink their business strategies and try out completely new growth opportunities. The rising number of smart platforms such as Hive, Curb and Homeshift has meant that consumers can be more conscious of their energy usage and through peer-to-peer initiatives such as Open Utility, they can even dictate where they are getting their energy from. But even more can be done to accelerate the energy transition, especially in light of the shock IEA Report that revealed that most green technologies currently in use would fail to meet the Paris Agreement's long-term goals.
Like many sectors, the energy sector is ripe for drastic digital disruption ("the triple D") and we are excited to see people daring to change things. And whilst change is good and at the UK Innovation Hub we fly the flag for creative innovation, we do have a responsibility to remind audiences to be a bit cautious when looking to invest budget in fresh ideas and disruptive schemes. Make sure you've done your research, spoken to the experts and ensured there is market viability for your new "wheeze."