Internet of Things
A lot of interest has been generated by the “Internet of Things” which experts believe will change the way we live, work, move and even do much more. A report by Gartner has predicted that 2016 will see a 30% boost in the number of connected devices (with almost 6.4 billion Internet of Things devices becoming connected to the internet and to each other) as compared to 2015. By 2020, this number is expected to rise up to a whopping 26 billion!
Wondering what it’s all about? Simply put, Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of interconnected devices and/or things that come embedded with software, sensors, essential electronics and network connectivity that empower them to be responsive by collecting and exchanging data.
Thus, you can say that any device which can be connected to/disconnected from the Internet (and/or to each other) can be part of the Internet of Things. From your smartphone, headphones and coffee machine to your washing machine, wearable devices, cars, lamps and even an airplane’s engine, almost anything can be a part of this new technology. So, you can call the Internet of Things a massive network of connected elements where the relationships could be between people, things or between things and people. Imagine what would happen if your alarm clock sets off the alarm at 6am to wake you up and immediately sends your coffee machine a message to start brewing your beverage? Or, what if your car could access your meeting calendar and chart the best route to let you reach office for that important meeting?
Sounds incredible? Well, with Internet of Things, all these could soon become a reality.
How Internet of Things will revolutionize businesses
Internet of Things promotes an ultra-connected world, which would have far reaching consequence for businesses. If you aren’t sure how you can leverage the power of this technology, here are some ways it can help:
- Making operations efficient with real time updates:
Imagine how efficient managing inventory would be when POS (Point-of-sale) scanners on the retail floor are connected to business headquarters’ analytics software and warehouse systems, thus giving them a clear picture of which items’ stock need to be replenished and which ones are still available for sale. Again, imagine how a washing machine or car manufacturer can use Internet of Things to monitor products and get immediate alert when parts malfunction to offer the customer proactive support. From office work and field operations to other areas of business, Internet of Things can help in real time monitoring, thus making businesses function more efficiently.
- Improved customer engagement:
Developing smart products that leverage Internet of Things to let customers interact with and control appliances by using network connections and the Internet would not only increase their engagement with the brand but also help manufacturers troubleshoot issues and provide support as they can monitor the machines and devices in real time and know quickly what isn’t functioning or giving trouble. Since happy customers mean more business, Internet of Things can pave the way for better ROI.
Internet of Things can even open new business avenues by creating new opportunities. As consumers and businesses start using Internet of Things, a new demand will arise for better and more improved devices and services, which would help them walk through this fast changing, ultra-connected landscape. Businesses that grab this chance can have the first mover’s advantage as Internet of Things makes a steady headway into every aspect of our lives.
Is Internet of Things all good?
Though people are talking a lot about Internet of Things and calling it a game changer, the technology has its fair share of cons too. Let’s take stock of a few things that have got the experts worried:
- Excessive reliability on technology: Though technology can help in real-time decision making, it’s important to remember that no system can be robust and 100% error-free. We have already witnessed glitches in the Internet and interconnected devices in the past. So, using such technology for everyday decision making or being too dependent on it would create havoc when it crashes or is under attack by malicious elements.
- Privacy and security issues: In an ultra-connected world, a massive amount of data will be collected online. This would mean a treasure trove for hackers and other malicious elements, who could get access to such online data and steal/tamper with sensitive and valuable business information. Some privacy advocates are also concerned about the kind and extent of information that businesses would be collecting in the name of Internet of Things.
Loss of jobs is yet another concern for some. Just as machine automation has rendered many jobless (especially the unskilled and semi-skilled workers), Internet of Things is also expected to cause loss of jobs among less educated workers as devices and machines can now communicate among themselves and with people too (owners/manufacturers etc), thus not needing any middleman to do the job.