One of the most heavily discussed topics in information technology the past couple years has been the Internet of Things, or IoT. However, recently, the buzz around IoT has been increasing at an exponential rate. Major companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, GE, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and more are redefining themselves.
In early 2016, Dell and Intel partnered to open an IoT lab in Singapore. In October 2016, Microsoft released a new Windows Insider version of Windows 10 IoT Core, and Intel’s IoT group increased its revenue 19 percent year-over-year.
Gartner expects more than 20 billion devices will be part of the IoT by 2020, while Cisco is estimating there will be 50 billion networked devices by 2020. Market research firm IDC predicts the IoT marketplace will grow to $1.7 trillion by 2020, up from $655.8 billion in 2014.
Simply put, the IoT is the internetworking of physical devices embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable objects to collect and exchange data. IoT is not a new concept. In fact, you are probably familiar with some examples without even realizing it through wearable devices, such as Jawbones and Fitbits, and smart home applications, such as learning thermostats and smart plugs.
IoT devices can be installed in vehicles, home electrical systems and appliances, bridges, buildings and roadways as well as implanted into farm animals and, yes, even humans. But, most small businesses are still unclear on how to adapt their business model to the IoT and leverage the immense amount of data.
Having access to continuous automated data opens endless opportunities for businesses. Here are three areas that could affect most businesses.
1. Customer service: Sensors in IoT devices create nonstop customer support by allowing vendors and manufacturers to monitor and interact with products remotely. Additionally, those devices can proactively send alerts when they detect a product or machine needs servicing or when it fails.
2. Internal business processes: Wearable devices and other IoT sensors can capture data leading to deep analytics that businesses can leverage to enhance productivity and lower costs.
3. Logistics: Vehicles can be equipped with IoT devices allowing for more efficient delivery routes leading to enhanced fuel conservation. Even packages themselves can utilize IoT sensors to track changes in temperature and light as well as jarring movements of valuable cargo.
In the not-too-distance future, IoT devices will be everywhere. One example could be sensors embedded into highways that detect icy conditions and notify your oncoming vehicle to slow down and then automatically force your vehicle to slow down if you don’t take action. Another example might be a network of IoT devices monitoring moisture levels in greenhouse soils to detect when watering is needed and communicating to robots when plants need to be automatically transplanted into larger pots.
Whether your business is in manufacturing, the service industry or retail, IoT devices have endless applications that will undoubtedly lead to enhanced productivity, better data collection and huge cost savings. The earlier you adopt IoT into your business, the earlier you can start taking advantage of these benefits and leave your competition behind.
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