Your business is about to be transformed by the Internet of Things18 May 2015
At its most basic, the Internet of Things is the notion that much of the day-to-day ‘stuff’ around us is, or soon will be, connected to the internet. Not just smartphones, smartwatches and televisions, but our household appliances, items on supermarket shelves, our roads and even our bodies.
It’s been happening for a while. Systems that monitor road traffic and help us avoid getting stuck in jams are a practical example that benefits businesses by saving time. This information is captured by sensors on the road network and is available to anyone, online.
You might think of the Internet of Things as being billions of sensors, all capturing data that’s collected and converted into useful information.
A perhaps flippant example of the Internet of Things is the idea of the web-connected fridge that sends you a text alert or a tweet when the milk is running low. This may seem like an expensive gimmick, but it’s just the start of a more integrated way of living.
What if the fridge only alerted you to what was running low when you entered a supermarket? It knows where you are because your smartphone or smartwatch records your location. Or take it a step further—the fridge places an order with your supermarket and alerts you to drop by their click and collect facility on your way home from work.
It doesn’t end there. Data about your fridge’s performance is being collected by the manufacturer so they know when a part is about to fail and they contact you to arrange a replacement before it breaks down. Retailers could collect the same data from lots of fridges, allowing them to work out which models are more reliable and share that information with customers.
How about your fridge being part of your home security system? The sensors can tell when the fridge door has been opened—information that might be useful if your home is meant to be empty. Or it could be one way of keeping a watchful eye on the activities of an elderly relative without the intrusive use of cameras.
All of this is possible today and we’re still in the very early phases of the Internet of Things. As the commercial benefits become more obvious, and easier to access, use of these web-connected technologies will spread into everyday business life.
This web-enabled interconnectivity of ‘stuff’ is already changing the way we live, work and play, and forward-thinking firms are finding ways to turn this to their commercial advantage.
Areas to watch out for in the near future include:
Click and collect. Analysts Deloitte believe that click and collect locations will increase by 20% in 2015, reaching half a million sites across Europe. Initially popular for grocery shopping, it’s being adopted elsewhere. Pendragon, the UK’s largest car dealer, is introducing the click and collect concept into the used car market.
Drones. Having your takeaway pizza delivered by drone may sound gimmicky, but it’s an early example of how these vehicles will revolutionise our lives. Amazon has recently been given permission, in the US, to test drone deliveries.
Self-driving cars. Petrol-heads hate them, but they’re now being tested in the UK and elements of self-driving technology, such as signpost recognition and proximity sensors, are already in place. Analysts KPMG predict the technology will prevent over 25,000 accidents a year, presenting an obvious benefit, both in human and commercial terms.
Gartner, one of the world’s most respected firms of analysts, said: “The Internet of Things is a revolution waiting to happen.” Projections suggest there will be at least 25 billion connected ‘things’ in the world within the next five years.
All this connected technology will bring a massive boost to productivity, allowing us to do more in less time. But the Internet of Things is also introducing a host of new issues that businesses, and their professional advisors, need to consider.
Smart automation means less people are required to get the job done, even in sectors with large numbers of knowledge workers, such as accountancy and law. A paper from the University of Oxford predicts that up to half the jobs in these areas will be at risk, as smart, integrated technology takes over.
Risk, always important to business, takes on a new dimension with the Internet of Things. All this technology may be great when it works, but who is to blame when something goes wrong? Firms that don’t prepare for these eventualities could find themselves at the wrong end of an expensive judgement.
In a world of sensors, cameras and instant global communication, data privacy and security is going to become an even hotter topic than it is right now. Businesses of all sizes can’t afford to ignore the preferences and concerns of their staff and customers.
The threat from cybercrime is growing. Whether it’s malicious vandalism of data or systems by a disgruntled employee, or a targeted attack by thieves looking for cash, goods or data, firms need to be raising their awareness of the dangers.
Our remote monitoring of our clients’ IT infrastructure and devices is a great example of the Internet of Things in action. Our tools spot potential problems before they occur, allowing us to apply a fix before the customer’s work is disrupted by a hardware or software failure.
Through our mobile device management service, our clients remain in control of all their smartphones, tablets and laptops, wherever they are. A lost phone can be locked down remotely and any misuse of a device can be reported on.
If you want to know more about how the Internet of Things can benefit your organisation today, give us a call on 0808 168 9135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be pleased to have a no-obligation conversation with you.
Our clients want to give all their attention to running their business or organisation, without the distraction of IT worries. By taking advantage of the Internet of Things, our service gives you space to maximise your productivity and grow your business.