Resource type: Blog
Should my business be interested in the Internet of Things?
What does the phrase ‘The Internet of Things’ (IoT) mean? In simple terms, the IoT is making everyday items ‘smart’ and connected through the internet. The common thread is a collection of sensors that are networked to gather data, analyse this and provide insights.
We’re already seeing a range of major industries experiment, use and adopt the Internet of Things, from insurance and energy suppliers to couriers and retail giants.
But what’s in it for the small business and what sort of benefits can you expect to achieve? Here’s just a few examples of what the IoT can offer:
- Cost savings – it can help to significantly decrease energy usage, with sensors monitoring things such as lighting and temperature and processing this data in order to micro-manage the activities in real-time.
- Greater control – if the brake pads on a truck are about to fail, the transportation company would be prompted to take the vehicle out of service and automatically schedule maintenance.
- Efficiencies – a facility services company could use IoT to aggregate data from thousands of sensors in places like coffee machines and soap dispensers rather than undertaking manual checks. This would enable support personnel to receive alerts about service issues and take immediate action. In turn this could improve levels of service and help to undercut competitors.
However, as well as the opportunities there are also a number of associated issues to consider. For instance the sheer scale and variety of data produced by IoT devices can render conventional file storage systems obsolete. And the volume of data also requires relatively sophisticated analytic tools to turn it into meaningful information.
The greatest concerns probably surround the issue of security. The fact that IoT focuses on internet-enabled devices means that any of these can, potentially, serve as a point of attack and, worryingly, the security in many IoT connected devices is not high. Consequently any IoT solution needs to ensure that end point security is adequately addressed.
So, what’s the best way to get started? The primary goal of IoT is to solve business problems, so avoid getting carried away with the current hype. Ideally start with a low-risk project that has clear benefits, then become increasingly more ambitious as your expertise and support grows.
What’s abundantly clear is the IoT is here to stay and is poised to change the world of business for both large multi-nationals and small businesses alike. With little free time, and heavy workloads it’s perhaps no surprise that most small businesses are not prioritising IoT over the day-to-day running of the company. Nevertheless, the potential revenue-making, value add, and cost-saving benefits of IoT should not be ignored.