The Internet of Things (IoT) has been described as the anchor of the 21st-century industrial revolution. It's poised to connect everything around us, as well as bolster productivity and efficiency. Estimates are that IoT will reach 50 billion objects by 2020. What will a world of Internet-connected devices look like? And more importantly, why is IoT critical to business?
The Internet of your things
IoT is the growing system of connected variables which include sensors, processors and chips, all of which interact through a network. Computers, smart phones and printers you use on a daily basis probably already have this capacity – but it's extending to televisions, cars and even whole industries controlling data remotely.
Soon every device you own – and almost every imaginable object – will be connected. Whether it's your phone, wearable tech or household objects. Imagine a smart office which sets the optimal workplace temperature throughout the day – that's soon becoming a reality. No more fights about whether it's too hot or cold.
Work it to your advantage
Businesses should be leading the charge in adopting and embracing IoT solutions to improve the bottom line. These solutions will lower operating costs, elevate productivity and allow expansion into new markets on the back of bigger and better product offerings. Change won't be limited to the four walls of your kitchen. It's in your office building too, geared towards worker and customer convenience. IoT allows for more trackable business data which opens the door to more insightful metrics for consumer behaviour.
This extends to internal management – your employees, how they work, and operational details. The IoT also brings with it a software and data management system to manage and implement this information more seamlessly, geared towards innovating and implementing IoT into all corners of the office. For example, printing software, like Pro-Act Nashua, detects abnormal functioning behaviour and alerts users of the glitch before the device is brought to a standstill. Just one example of how interconnectedness means less downtime. Maintenance time is also kept to a minimum, and operating efficiency is seamless.
The IoT has also sprung forth with smarter inventory management system. Equipment, devices and products held in a single network are ultimate efficiencies – with instant access to data at your disposal from anywhere, at any time. The connectedness of devices likely means less of a need for so many, which will drive down inventory costs.
IoT will fundamentally change how businesses are structured. Remote work and satellite offices will become unthinkably simple to set up and manage, thanks to cloud-hosted software – this is already the case for many connected businesses. In the realm of public services, interconnected devices could bring safer, more efficient commuting and quicker deliveries, whether in cars or via public transport.
The downside of IoT integration
Tech and device management can be a complex task. For IoT to work at its optimum, devices must continuously run software updates and connection must be lightning quick. This will be expensive and demanding. Some industries might become obsolete. But most will change radically when IoT becomes mainstream.
Change can be hard to map when it's happening around you. Businesses must pay close attention to how their industries are metamorphosing and be prepared for major change. Though some industries may disappear altogether, the proliferation of IoT will also open doors for entrepreneurs smart enough to harness maiden opportunities.
There's one thing we know for sure: ignoring the changes won't make them go away. Start thinking of your business as infinitely connected – then seek out a business solutions partner who can make that a reality.