All too commonly, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a topic that companies overlook because they don’t necessarily understand its implications. In short, the IoT is a broad name for internet-connected devices that are not computer terminals as we would normally imagine: for example, smart devices such as the Amazon Echo, printers, Bluetooth-controlled light systems, the diagnostic systems of modern cars, or even a coffee maker that liaises with the Echo and the alarm clock.
Certain obvious risks exist with such devices: security is a primary concern, since no one needs his or her coffee maker sending data to nefarious hackers. Nevertheless, IoT and security is a topic that is firmly within the public eye. Furthermore, while cyberattacks pose a very real threat, this does not seem to be preventing companies from reducing their forays into the IoT world.
One main concern with IoT is what, specifically, to do with the incredible amounts of data that the IoT is collecting. However, recent advances in AI and Machine Learning have given us a better idea of what to do with this information. As algorithms, processing power, and storage capacity increase, the data from the IoT has a place to get processed and to turn into viable, actionable knowledge.
What may be even more important is the risk of leaving tremendous business opportunities on the table. The IoT revolution is continuing at a tremendous pace, with more devices of established types as well as more newly-connected types of devices entering the market every year. It is vital that companies understand the opportunities that the IoT provides and make the appropriate adjustments for these.
As a simple example, take a self-cleaning toilet. At certain points, it will need replenishment of its disinfectant and paper by a human being. Without someone on hand to replenish these stocks, all the benefits of having a self-cleaning toilet will be lost: it may still work as a toilet, but that’s something like calling a broken-down escalator “a staircase.”
Certain sectors, such as heavy industry and agriculture, are leaders in the adoption of IoT for clear reasons: the value chain is larger and more complex, so reducing its links can improve efficiency and financial gain tremendously. As these companies learn how to get the best use out of the IoT, companies in other, smaller industries will also benefit from running along the trails that these different industries have blazed.