The Internet of Things (IoT) can be described simply as any device that can connect to the internet. These devices collect different types of data and send it to a cloud application that puts the raw data into context.
Why should businesses care?
The reason you should care is because it has the potential to completely change the way you interact with your clients and the services you offer. Before you compare me to Pinocchio and dismiss this statement as hyperbole, have a look at these figures:
- Even though 87% of people haven’t heard of IoT, in 2008 there were already more objects connected to the internet than people.
- The global wearable device market grew 223% in 2015, and by 2020 250,000 vehicles will be connected to the internet.
- According to some estimates, IoT will add $10-$15 Trillion to global GDP in the next 20 years. That’s a huge opportunity for businesses that is happening now!
Business applications for the IoT range from manufacturing to healthcare and beyond. Imagine if a wearable device could detect when someone was going to have a heart attack and automatically call an ambulance, alert the hospital and their doctor. Or assembly lines that automatically pinpoint where there are tiny drops in efficiency and can schedule themselves for repair.
Of course with the advancement of technology there are always moral dilemmas and impacts on society that need to be discussed. Security and privacy are two of the biggest issues when it comes to the IoT, do we really want all this data collected about our personal lives, and what would happen if people were to hack into these systems?
Another issue that is topical at the moment is job losses, we already have self-serve checkouts and if self-driving cars become commercially available, where does that leave taxi and truck drivers? Manufacturing is already an industry that is highly automated and is destined become even more so.
These problems are not ones that can be solved overnight but they do need to be addressed soon with the explosion and subsequent rise of IoT devices.
The IoT is already well and truly here, the questions that remain are how will businesses leverage it and what impacts will it have on us as a society.