Internet of Things and the Business World?
Experts predict that by 2020, the Internet of Things will have a market greater than $1 Trillion, yet despite it being the new buzzword, many people have no idea how this predicted revolution will shape the business world.
We’ve all heard predictions of various appliances with sensors, wearable devices and connected cars. However, in order to understand the full impact of the IoT on day-to-day life, it’s important to assess how these “things” will create real business value and how entrepreneurs can tap into the market.
The key questions that must be answered concern what kind of data the devices will be collecting, how many different “things” will be connected and what the proposed uses are that are driving the predictions.
Internet of Things: Data
One of the most common types of data is location aware, gathered from wearable devices such as Fitbit, or from technology installed on mobile devices that informs systems of the location of the device. Sensors are able to report on factors such as humidity, temperature, motion, activity, velocity and sound. They can also assess the condition of machinery, measuring load, pressure, torque and even chemical composition.
Internet of Things: Categories
A wide spectrum of business functions are addressed by the IoT, creating business opportunities. The categories include supply chain management, remote monitoring and maintenance, real time financial analysis, business process automation, location tracking and energy efficiency.
Internet of Things: Cases
The IoT has the potential to revolutionise the way we work, enabling complete office automation by embracing the new technology. Think about installing programmable thermostats, so that you’re not heating or air-conditioning empty rooms when no-one’s working, such as evenings and weekends. Studies show this can save an average of around $2,500 per year.
Smart door locks mean you can update your office key code via your smartphone, so you’ll never have to worry about changing your locks for security reasons, or losing your key. Wireless motion sensors can be programmed to turn the lights off and on when people leave or enter an office, with the system alerting you when someone enters. These are beneficial for saving energy and more importantly on a business level, for physical building security – an element which naturally factors into data security.
Wireless networked cameras are able to send streaming video directly to your mobile device, so you can see who’s approaching internal rooms, such as your server room or cash office, as well as the front door and other building entry points. This boosts security and particularly benefits offices where employees may be working late without a receptionist.
Turning away from security and towards the office in general, perhaps install water sensors to automatically report incidents, such as notifications of leaks or floods in your office. On a slightly lighter note, window shades can be programmed to move with the sun, so you’ll never be dazzled as you sit at your computer striving to meet a deadline. Automating or programming surface level areas of the Workplace like this can in turn encourage higher productivity levels from employees as their concentration isn’t broken by having to attend to the problem themselves.
Even when you’re not physically in the office, a networked doorbell enables you to talk to visitors – such as delivery drivers – via your smartphone, whether at home or on-the-go. The options for business are seemingly endless and it then becomes a careful balance between innovation and procedure to ensure that the devices are adding benefit your business to the optimum degree, without risking or compromising security systems and processes.
Internet of Things: Health Care
Using IoT platforms can deliver health-related services in a fraction of the time and more economically by managing thousands of connected products. In an ageing population, one challenge faced by doctors treating elderly patients is persuading them to travel to the GP’s surgery for regular check-ups.
Using a connected device that records health-related information enables details to be sent to health professionals and family members, evaluating each patient’s health in real time. Patients requiring assisted living, rather than residing in a retirement home for example, can be monitored inside their home, so the ambulance service and family members are automatically notified should an emergency occur.
Using data from remote systems enables fast resolutions of problems that occur using enhanced collaboration. Additionally, healthcare firms can use remote access to diagnose and repair medical devices, reducing the number of field-service deployments. The cost of care can be reduced by providing predictive maintenance and pay-per-usage of devices. Hospital productivity and patient care can be improved by providing complementary mobile and web apps.
Internet of Things: Security
With the anticipated increase in interaction between the physical world and technology comes a greater need to have adequate protection against security breaches in place. With devices as diverse as household appliances and industrial sensors being linked to the internet, enabling autonomous data transfer, privacy risks will arise.
This is an aspect of the IoT that security and IT professionals must address before any technology is implemented to ensure the potential risks are minimised. The focus on a shared infrastructure raises cloud-based issues, such as identification and authentication, legislative boundary restrictions, data access and liability cover. Every chief information security officer must liaise closely with their cloud services provider to ensure appropriate controls exist for every aspect of the service.
By George Foot