What is the internet of things?
The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is a network of physical internet-connected devices that can collect and share data across a network. Simply put, IoT is a term used to describe objects connected to the internet. Over the last few years, IoT has quietly taken the world by storm, and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, there are 31 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things. To put things into perspective, that’s more than three IoT devices for every person on earth.
IoT devices include anything that can connect to the internet to send and receive data. And it turns out that almost anything can be connected this way. A lot of businesses are already reaping the benefits of the technology. An IoT platform is required to create an IoT device. IoT platforms allow developers to manage the applications they build as well as store, share, and analyze data.
IoT Applications By Industry
All of these IoT devices and platforms around us accomplish a diverse range of tasks that go way beyond just reordering coffee capsules. According to Forbes, 84% of the growing IoT applications will be dominated by a few main industries: Smart Cities (26%), Industrial IoT (24%), Connected Health (20%), and Smart Homes (14%). What does that mean? Let’s find out.
Smart Homes and Security
This first category hits close to home … because it’s about your home. A few years ago, 83 million smart home devices shipped to consumers. We are adding 193 million new devices per year. While seemingly every area of IoT is rapidly expanding, IoT devices within our homes are some of the most noticeable.
Affordable smart devices like Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomePod help make IoT technology accessible to a broad audience and allow more people to become comfortable with bringing IoT into their personal spaces. Smart security features aren’t just good for consumers; they’re beneficial to businesses too.
Outside of the home, IoT is beginning to revolutionize the healthcare and health monitoring industries. Hospitals are already able to remotely monitor their patients’ health and collect data using connected medical devices like insulin pumps and heart monitors. This allows doctors to catch early signs of problems and take preventive action. Sensors on hospital beds that tell when and where beds are open reduce wait times by up to four hours. And monitoring on critical equipment prevents vital hardware from breaking when it is needed most.
Imagine a world where there’s always Wi-Fi, city trash cans never overflow, and parking spots are readily available. With the Internet of Things, that world can be a reality. The technology is increasingly influencing urban planning and design to make cities smarter — or wicked smart as we like to say in Boston. The adoption of IoT by smart cities is also increasingly important for a larger portion of the population. Every week, 1.3 million people move into cities. This type of mass migration can put a massive strain on a city’s infrastructure.
Smart roads. Smart parking. Sounds good, right? Now imagine driving on those smart roads and parking in those smart spots in a new smart car. In two years, experts project 250 million smart cars will be on the roads. 10 million of those cars will drive themselves. And that’s only the start. With the Internet of Things, the drone can use connected sensors to track potential hazards both on the ground and in flight.
Smart transportation doesn’t just include self-driving cars and drones, sensors inside airplanes can alert maintenance crews of any issues. IoT is revolutionizing the way humans and physical goods get from point A to B.
How the Internet of Things (IoT) is Changing Business?
So far, the future is looking pretty exciting thanks to the Internet of Things. Cities are cleaner and more efficient, you’re saving money on your electric bill, and you never run out of household essentials. But what does this all mean for business owners? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s talk about what the adoption of IoT means for customers.
The greatest thing IoT will change for consumers is their experience with customer service representatives. Companies, instead of customers, will start initiating customer service interactions, and these exchanges will often begin before a problem has even occurred. Essentially, customer service will switch from a reactive to a preventative model. Companies that use IoT to reduce friction in their customer experience will see the greatest benefits as adoption grows.
IoT’s Effect on Business Operations and Supply Chain
Internally, connected devices within companies will improve operational efficiency by allowing management to identify unprofitable or unproductive processes and remove or enhance them. By converting the physical world into digital data, IoT allows every step to be measured and managed. In the short term, this may result in staff reductions within less productive areas or staff increases to support the implementation of IoT into the business.
Once IoT is integrated into a business’s day-to-day process, it can become a powerful enabler for monitoring and improving operations. Manual data collection is slow and inefficient, but connected devices allow information to be continuously gathered and analyzed which enables employees to focus on more strategic, impactful tasks
Opportunity for Alternative Business Models
Every implementation of IoT produces volumes of information and, just like user data from social networks, IoT collected data is already creating new markets for sellers and buyers. Companies who can successfully manage customer data from their IoT devices can sell that information to other marketers and research organizations. According to Rossman, 10% of organizations will soon have entire departments dedicated to selling and trading IoT collected user data. And that’s got some people concerned…
IoT has become a network of 31 billion connected devices and it’s safe to say that the Internet of Things has arrived, and it’s here to stay. And with the rise of IoT, comes an onslaught of data. Connected communities will have the luxury of total convenience and personalization, as well as access to massive amounts of data. This data will allow businesses and consumers to proactively engage instead of react.
IoT and the data it collects will change life as we know it, but the technology alone will not help businesses. Companies that hope to flourish must use IoT to up-level the customer experience, increase operational effectiveness, and improve how they grow their businesses.