The Internet of Things. A phrase that’s being bandied around more and more by the media these days. But what does it mean?
Wikipedia defines the IoT as, “…the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices“), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.” That’s a bit of a mouthful, bearing the simplicity of the title, but you get the picture.
The key fact to grasp, though, is that it means DATA. Lots of it. The amount of information being collected and exchanged every second is phenomenal, and it’s growing fast. Used correctly, this is going to be a marketer’s dream. So what are the next few months going to look like?
The collection tools are in place – those smart devices are everywhere. The next step is to make use of the data they’re collecting, and we’d suggest this isn’t going to be just about interrogating data once it’s been stored. It’s going to be about analysing data in real time, as events are unfolding. Making adjustments on the fly. There’s going to be a mushrooming of innovation in this area over the next few months. Get into it now, and you’ll ride this wave all the way to your bottom line.
The big boys are investing time and money
Cisco, Microsoft, you name any of the big names, and they’ll be investing heavily in R&D for the Internet of Things. What does this mean? It means there’s soon to be an explosion in the hardware available to both small businesses and big businesses alike. It means there’ll be an exponential increase in the number of apps tapping into the IoT network and it undoubtedly means there will be a shift in consumer behaviour as people come to expect more… in an instant.
It’s no longer just about the consumer
Industry and B2B analysts are now also seeing the potential the IoT offers to all kinds of business. From connected factories to the convergence of IT and operational technology (eg. infrastructure systems), the exchange of data between devices is going to have a huge impact on efficiency.
Protocols will need to be standardised
As is always the case at the beginning of a new wave of technology, standards and platforms have yet to be agreed. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, you name it, devices are operating on a whole mix of protocols and formats currently, but that’s going to have to change. For the true power of the IoT to be harnessed, standardisation is going to have to take place. Think VHS vs Betamax on steroids.
Security is going to be under the microscope
DDoS attacks over the last twelve months have focused attention on weaknesses in IoT devices. There are risks and vulnerabilities in any set up, but things are going to have to tighten up. GDPR, if nothing else, will ensure that this is the case. Manufacturers and software developers are going to need to agree rules and regulations, and then enforce them.
It’s not going away…
With the likes of Amazon and Google vying for recognition in smarthome products, you can be sure that the IoT is not a flash in the pan. With compatibility between devices sure to improve, consumers are already beginning to expect the next generation of devices to be in development. And where consumer sentiment goes, commercial sentiment is sure to follow. For businesses that operate in a B2B market, it won’t be long before the IoT is touching that world too. We’d recommend you prepare for it now. We’re about to go one of the biggest technology rides for decades….