The Internet of Things Explained: What It Is and Why It Matters
The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to sweep the globe, becoming a $300 billion industry by 2020.
The IoT is increasingly being hailed in the tech and other industries as the inevitable future of the Internet and computing.
Experts believe that the IoT will change the way businesses and services work dramatically, increasing efficiency and making everything around us more intelligent and sensitive to our needs.
Despite this, many people struggle to understand what it all means and how exactly it will affect them and their business. In this article, we will bring you a concise summary of the Internet of Things explained so that you can find out what all the fuss is about.
The Internet of Things explained
“The Internet of Things is not a concept; it is a network, the true technology-enabled Network of all networks” — Edewede Oriwoh.
So what is the Internet of Things?
Gartner estimates that by 2020 there will be 26 billion devices connected to the Internet. What experts believe is that, as new technologies create more intelligent devices and other “things”, our lives will be increasingly recorded through data, which will measure how we use these “things”.
It is important to understand that these “things” will not only be mobile devices, and here is where the IoT becomes more than a simple increase in mobile device use.
It’s about more than just your mobile phone
Experts predict that the IoT will expand to all sorts of things around us; from refrigerators that inform you when a food item needs to be replenished to medical “pills” that record how a health condition is developing inside your body.
This will be possible thanks to the increased implementation of “intelligent” sensors which have a contextual awareness that will be able to record valuable data.
As these “things” record data about our lives, this data will be delivered via networks such as the Internet. These networks will interact with other networks as part of chains of service and product delivery and support set up by companies.
As interactions between different networks increase in number, a big new Network is being created, which we call the Internet of Things.
So what does all this mean for you?
All this may seem quite perplexing, but the impact that the IoT will have on our lives and on businesses will be immense.
For starters, this sort of real-time data will allow companies to know what issues their customers are experiencing in real-time, speeding up support dramatically.
At the same time, the great amounts of data collected will give companies information on how their customers like using their product or service. This will help them to optimize the user experience according to customer needs.
On the other hand, in order to take advantage of this, companies will need to invest large amounts of money in order to create the right infrastructure to support such vast amounts of data and connectivity.
This infrastructure will be cloud-based, which will be instrumental in monitoring and updating devices in real time. At the same time, companies will need centralized management systems to control it.
What are the benefits of the Internet of Things?
But despite the great investments that companies will need to make to take advantage of the IoT, the return on investment will be substantial and the benefits immense:
Faster service and product updates
Easy access to real-time data on product or service use will allow companies to do two things:
- Deliver instant support for real-time needs and issues and dramatically improve user-experience.
- Anticipate problems by observing how their customers are using their product or service and ensuring that they optimize it accordingly.
At the same time, by giving devices total control on providing data, companies will be able to save valuable time and resources.
In the IoT, sensors will be responsible for not only collecting data but also communicating it automatically across networks without human intervention. This will result in new connections between data that will create valuable information, delivered to the right people and places at the right time.
This will result in new connections between data that will create valuable information, delivered to the right people and places at the right time.
Flexibility for enterprise
In this way, companies will be able to adjust networks so that they make the necessary changes according to varying conditions, making human intervention completely unnecessary in many cases.
To give an example, a smart fridge that can tell when you have run out of a certain item could be set up to automatically add said item to the next supermarket order.
New forms of data
As more and more data emerges to create new networks and combinations, new forms of useful information will emerge too.
These will allow networks to become increasingly intelligent, enabling companies to continue innovating. Currently, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of the vast possibilities available.
New revenue streams
More intelligent data will open the doors to vast amounts of new revenue streams and business opportunities. This is likely to lead to a true boom in new IoT-related products and services.
What are the challenges of the Internet of Things?
So far, so good; it sounds like the IoT is going to lead to a world of increased convenience for users and companies alike.
But adopting the IoT is not going to be that easy, and there are great concerns about what the consequences of creating such a vast network may be:
The chief concern raised by many is the challenges the IoT could bring to security.
As the amount of data on the cloud grows, so will the potential for people to hack into networks and steal sensitive and valuable information.
This will be a challenge that companies will need to address strongly. Generally, it is agreed that mobile devices will need to vastly increase security measures in order to be suitable for handling sensitive information.
There are a number of ways that additional layers of security can be added to achieve this.
2. Consumer privacy
The same will apply to everyday users and their personal privacy.
Most people will already be aware of the dangers of storing private information on the cloud, as evidenced by privacy breach cases documented in the media. As users increasingly store greater amounts of information on the cloud, the volume of private information will increase many times over.
As a consequence, hackers could potentially steal vast amounts of personal information stored in the cloud.
This issue is particularly challenging because optimising products and services for customers will depend on exactly this kind of personal information. Companies will, therefore, need to ensure that this information is secure and that breaches of privacy can be prevented.
3. Data storage
Finally, one of the greatest challenges for companies will be that of storing the vast amounts of data that they will be collecting.
We are talking about billions of Terabytes of data. And most companies are not currently equipped to support this kind of volume.
The impact the IoT will have on storage infrastructure will be enormous. Companies will need to come up with dramatically new ways to store and transfer data if they wish to keep up with the demands of customers and with promises of delivering instant support.
What you should keep in mind about the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is going to have a dramatic effect on the way we live and do business, leading to a vast new industry worth billions.
This will result in an extremely connected world that will make life and business support a dramatically faster and more convenient process for everyone.
However, the IoT will also pose great challenges for companies adopting them as well as users. It will be essential for companies to address these issues before they adopt IoT technologies.
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