The Internet of Things (IOT) is simply the connection of devices to the internet (and/or each other) with an on/off switch. Your phone, tablet, and laptop computer are all connected to the internet, and for some each other, with an on/off switch. But this isn’t restricted to those types of devices. Since it’s anything with an on/off switch, it opens up to your car, your alarm clock and even your refrigerator are connectable to the internet and can talk potentially connect with each other.
The IOT is a network of connected devices to other devices, devices to people and people to people. There will potentially be more than 26 billion devices connected by 2020. Can you imagine? How great would it be if you’re connected car could send an email to work letting them know that you’re going to be late because of traffic on the highway? Your fridge already sends you notices when you are out of things.
The IOT allows for endless possibilities of connections across an endless supply of devices. There are so many possibilities that we haven’t even figured them out yet. This makes the topic something to talk about and something to watch. But along with the opportunities that IOT presents, there are also challenges, too. It is no wonder that when discussing this the term “security” comes up a lot. With the billions of devices all connected, how likely is it that someone finds a way to hack into your smart fridge and gain access to your network?
Also, many companies will be producing loads of sensitive data from all the devices that they have connected to the IOT. This opens up companies to more cyber threats, not to mention the issues of data sharing and privacy. There will come a need to store, track, and analyze all this data that is going to be generated.
Speaking of data, the future of the Internet of Things has already arrived. It’s the virtual assistant. Google, Alexa, Cortana, and Siri are all virtual assistants from four different companies (Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple). These devices were created to make certain aspects of our lives easier. They can order stuff for us, control the house lights, alarms, TV and so much more. They are always listening and always connected, taking in everything that they hear and analyzing the data.
This virtual assistant gives you convenience and saves you time in your daily routine. At the same time, it is sending the parent company of the device (Google, Cortana, Alexa, and Siri) all the data from your life. They know what you eat, what you read, what you watch and more. All this data is quantified and analyzed so that it can be used in any way that they can within their terms of service. You see a small dose of this through ads in your Facebook feed and emails from Amazon.
Your smartphone keeps track of where you go and where you’ve been. It connects to your virtual assistant and to your computer. Imagine that connectivity between computers, phones, and tablets in your business. Some professions are already utilizing this kind of connectivity, making their work easier and at the same time producing more data that needs to be stored and analyzed. This will inevitably require more server space and more speed from the network, all of which requires more work and time for the IT department or managed service provider.
With hackers finding more ways to get at your data and make money from cyber attacks on businesses, is all this connectivity good for business? Let’s look at a few of the ways that IOT can impact your business:
With customers connecting in new ways and more often, there will be plenty of data that needs to be stored or quantified. Smart devices will be able to track customer behavior and maybe even learn from it. This data could be used to personalize ads and suggest orders in new and interesting ways.
The freedom of the “smart house” will now translate into the “smart warehouse.” You’ll be able to track inventory automatically, freeing up your workers for other tasks. You could track an item from warehouse to the customer to reorder all through the internet.
- Remote work
If your business doesn’t deal with physical inventory, that could free up your employees to work remotely. With their devices connected to computers or servers back at the office, they will work easier and more effectively from the field. It is said that employees work better when out of the office, so this could improve morale, which in turn affects the bottom line. A win/win.
- Speed & accessibility
Having access to the things they want easier and more efficiently, customers will be ordering faster, cutting down on the amount of time it takes to get what they want. This may even result in the customer wanting delivery faster since the ordering process is so much easier. Since any third party shipping company you may use will have the same tools as you, they will be able to help you serve that customer even faster.
- Efficiency & Productivity
Getting things done faster could lead to better productivity and more efficient operations. This would allow you to cut down on the number of people you employ or maybe you can change some things in a new aspect of your business, allowing your business to grow in ways you wouldn’t have been able to before.
You might be able to cut some workers, but then you might also want to hire new ones that could fill the need for IT service. Or take that money you save from fewer workers and invest it in hiring an outside IT firm such as SunRiver IT Partners. Helping you manage this new frontier of connectivity is what they do, so give SunRiver IT Partners a call and find out how they can help you grow your business today.