Intertrust invents trusted computing products and services to leading global corporations – including the world’s leading digital rights management (DRM).
Transforming Data-Driven Energy
With the rise of big data, IoT, and smart cities, untold data is being collected about energy usage by energy companies and utilities. This data represents a massive opportunity for both energy companies and their customers, in terms of provisioning new services, improved operations and margins for producers, as well as better environmental outcomes.
However, as data becomes the currency of tomorrow’s energy company, they’ll need to avoid the mistakes companies have made in the past when it comes to protecting PII in the age of GDPR, California Data Privacy and other rising mandates. In addition to this, while the conventional view is that utilities are now under threat from oil and gas providers, the real risk is from horizontally integrated multinationals like Amazon and Google, who could buy wholesale electricity and give it to consumers for free in exchange for access to customers’ data.
One solution for this comes from the 30-year-old company ‘Intertrust’, who previously pioneered the technology for digital rights management (DRM). In accordance to the energy industry, DRM authentication and privacy helps some of the biggest global energy brands – like Germany’s Innogy, and Australia’s Origin – protect their data.
Talal Shamoon, CEO of Intertrust, speaks to SciTech Europa Quarterly about his role in leading the transformation of Data-Driven Energy.
Can you tell us a bit about Intertrust?
Intertrust was founded in 1990 to rewrite operating systems to create data, software and applications as things that should be protected and managed in their own right. At that point we didn’t really know what these machines could be. The internet and the web were open networks and had suddenly become highly distributed and anonymous; it seemed uncontrollable.
Therefore, we invented a way of creating a protected processing environment, where data and code apps could check in and always be protected wherever they went. However, that was a long time ago. If you look at the world around us today, especially with IoT coming online, it’s completely changed. You have these machines that are ubiquitous, they live in our pockets, our ceilings, even our cars. Inspiration just goes from place to place, gets accumulated and then flowers; our technology is pervasive.
Our role today, is primarily the following two factors: research and building products. Firstly, we have a research lab where we license our intellectual property to people who want to build their own stuff, including the major giants. Secondly, we build products that allow people to protect and manage devices, and data sets in the cloud. An example of one of our products is a set of media products that protect and manage video and music by constantly running in the background of the users device. Products like this help protect the data from threats such as hackers.
Previously, you have said the following: ‘the rise of the data-driven energy model that is not only transforming the energy industry, but in many ways giving new life to a massive global market, and very well may be a bulwark against the monopolistic grip of data-hungry, privacy-violating new market entrants’. How is the convergence of IoT and Big Data driving change in the energy industry?
Our entry into the energy space happened a few years ago, when we started talking to Germany’s biggest energy company at the time. They asked me how they could maintain their position as the main energy company in Europe. I told them that the industry was succumbing to the same sort of disruption patterns that pretty much all the other industries, which have met the internet have succumbed to over the years; whether it’s banking, or entertainment and media. With renewable energy, anyone can make electricity. However, with an IoT energy company, you can actually follow the electron – not only the meter on the side of your house, but into the house and across the grid. You can even ask IoT devices questions and the response is second data, which people can monetise.
By applying these forces, new entrants can pick pieces of the energy market to move into. For example, Amazon or Google can decide that they want to be energy companies too, and then come up with completely different business models that really disrupt the current business and energy market. Now, however, the energy companies themselves can play the same game.
I suggested to the CEO of that company that they sell electrons to companies, such as Google and Amazon, for their data centres. These companies can then turn those electrons into data and run margins between 50 and 60% compared to their current margins – which were six to seven percent – this is a full meta transaction. As a result, they could then reorient their business and optimise operations by thinking about every single transaction as a data transaction, and become a data driven company. Not only improving their margins, but actually starting to participate in the business that they are enabling, beyond the smart meters.
What are energy readers doing to harness the power of data-driven energy to disrupt their business models and drive growth?
Enabling technology allows you to use the lens of IoT and data driven technologies to go back to a time when you only had one power company. Now, of course, with deregulation, you have a very competitive climate, which means with the cost of electricity, and the cost of services decreases dramatically, which is really good for the consumer.
One example of how these technologies are put to use in the energy space, are smartphones. If you’re checking into a proprietary ecosystem, and you are giving all of your data away for free, to one of these big data hungry companies. One of our collaborative partners in Germany have built a smart home system with an open ecosystem. This then collects the data and sends it up into a cloud, which uses our particular software, and they manage it privately, anonymously, and they give that data back to the device makers in a private fashion.
At the same time, they make it available for groups with partners, such as insurance companies and food security companies, to use. Again, all of the while protecting consumer applications of consumer data. This creates the power of an ecosystem, like Google Home or Alexa, without violating the consumers, whilst also giving consumers choice, and allowing them to access cheaper services such as insurance.
What is next for Intertrust?
The future priority for our enterprise right now is to keep promoting this modular platform within the energy space, but then to follow the electrons into different vertical markets. We’re already active in the insurance industry, because a lot of the stuff we’re enabling with our products needs to be insured, and insurance companies are fundamentally data driven. We can exploit our role as a data driven neutral platform provider to let the insurance companies design much more efficient insurance policies for everything from wind farms, to infrastructure.
Talal G. Shamoon
Chief Executive Officer