The Internet of Things (otherwise known as the IoT) refers to the vast amount of physical devices around the world that are connected to the internet, sharing and collecting data at all times.
Thanks to the availability of cheap processors and wireless networks, these days it’s possible to turn anything into part of the Internet of Things, whether it be a tiny pill or a jet engine.
These items would otherwise be dumb, but adding such a level of digital intelligence gives them the ability to communicate without any interference from humans, a seamless combination of two worlds; the digital and the physical.
This idea was developed throughout the 1980s and 1990s but during this time progress was slow and there were only a few projects. The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 but it took at least another ten years before the required technology was there to achieve his vision.
How big is the IoT?
In short – it’s big and getting bigger.
When you consider that almost any object can be transformed into an IoT device, it’s no surprise to learn that there are already more connected things than there are people living on Earth. It’s been calculated that there were somewhere around 8.4 billion IoT devices being used in 2017. On this basis, this amount is likely to reach 20.4 billion by the year 2020. These will include consumer devices such as smart TVs and smart speakers and enterprise devices such as electric metres and security cameras.
How the IoT help your business
First and foremost, the IoT can help to make our environments smarter. At home, Internet of Things examples such as the Amazon Echo and Google home now make it easier than ever to play music, ask for news updates, set timers and more. At the same time, home security systems now make it much easier to monitor what’s going on in your property both inside and out, and it’s even possible to invest in smart thermostats or smart light bulbs to prepare our home for our arrival.
While businesses can benefit from such devices, there are a number of IoT trends to look out for that have been proven to enhance the way you work.
- You can work on improving customer engagement
Giving your customers the opportunity to interact with their devices provides useful communication capabilities such as being able to give them proactive support when they need it the most. If a device needs servicing, for example, it can send a message to both the customer and the manufacturer so that it can be dealt with quickly and efficiently. This technology could work with something as simple as a light bulb or something more complex like a household security system.
- You can add even more automated services
In the shipping industry, it’s now possible to extend IoT sensors on vehicles that can measure a change of temperature, establish a risk of theft and monitor delays. This, in turn, improves the transport operations of cargo and can maximise the visibility of supply chains. Similarly, these sensors can provide real-time alerts, and this data can be analysed to improve future operations.
- Allow you to make smarter decisions
When it comes to distribution, data that was previously unavailable such as data on movement, vibration, temperature, light and other conditions can now be calculated by an IoT device, stored and analysed so that future operations can run even more smoothly. Specific feedback can be sent back to the cloud so that companies will know how equipment is used, when and how they break and how they can be improved for customers.
- Working remotely will become easier
Cloud-hosted software and portable devices already make remote work an option for many, but with IoT, integration things will suddenly become even easier to manage on one network. Soon, one tablet and an internet connection might allow you to manage an entire production line without living the comfort of your home.
- Business productivity will increase
Although the cost of your upgrading your devices might seem like a huge step at first, eventually this will mean you’ll be employing fewer people, and your production line will become faster and more efficient.
Many businesses are already incorporating IoT technology to improve how they work and compete with others. With this in mind, you might want to start thinking about how you can begin to integrate and deploy such solutions in your own workplace.