Relevance of Internet of Things
Every day we hear about new developments in the Internet of Things arena, which is filled with the potential to change the way we live and do business.
Beyond the buzz words and hype that surrounds IoT, the key question in my mind is what's in it for me.
In this post, I will look at some broad level implications of what IoT may mean for us as consumers, businesses, entrepreneurs as well as those of us who are in the business of running governments and state institutions.
So what does all this really mean for Consumers?
As consumers, we are presented with choices of how we can use Internet of Things and related technologies to improve the convenience, comforts and security of our homes and be more efficient and cost effective in the way we consume services such as energy. Smart home technologies are now becoming available for consumers around the world. Googles Nest learning thermostat that and Samsungs smart things kit are such examples.
We will also be in a position to be able to track and monitor a huge range of our own physiological functions. This includes anything from our heart beat and blood sugar levels to our stress levels, with the aim of improving our wellness and health.
In the not too distant future we are likely to be recipients of offers from service providers such as our insurers to take up an IoT device that will enable the insurers to track, monitor and measure everything from our fitness and health indicators to driving habits. We will have to decide if we are ready to trade our privacy for potentially better deals and discounts.
Already we are seeing a large number of do it yourself IoT devices and wearables aimed at consumers hitting the market. Many of these products are still first generation products that will appeal to the early adopters among us. How these products will evolve and change future generations remains to be seen.
What will this all do for Businesses?
Internet of Things and related technologies have the potential to transform businesses that are involved in a wide range of industries. Almost every sector of business from agriculture, transportation, health, manufacturing, resources, mining and retail to service sector are set to benefit from or at least be impacted by IoT.
By connecting physical things, processes and people right across the business value chain, businesses are able to tap in to a range of benefits. Benefits will be around faster and better decision making, greater or new operational efficiencies and access to new revenue streams. Best of all, it will provide businesses the ability to get closer than ever before to their customers and how the customers interact with their products.
IoT is not the only solution or option that CxO's have at their disposal to achieve these outcomes. It's all about what project or investment will drive better return for each organisation. As a farmer, do you invest in another dozen cows to produce more milk or do you connect the existing cows with biometric sensors to get the data needed to work out how you can get more milk with your existing herd?
We are already seeing motor vehicle manufacturers such as Tesla introducing connected cars into their category of offerings. Global mining and resource companies such as Rio Tinto are increasing the availability and uptime of their key machinery by leveraging IOT and related technologies to perform predictive maintenance. There are ample incentives for more business to assess and implement an IoT strategy within their business.
How can Local and State Governments leverage IoT?
For local governments, the Internet of Things offers a great opportunity to provide a range of services that will not only improve the quality of life of its citizens but also improve the efficiency and profitability of state services. Smart Cities is a term often used to describe how state or local governments are working to merge urban planning, ecology, and information technology to ensure the benefits of technology reach every neighbourhood and improve the lives of citizens.
There are a number of cities around the world that have aspirations of becoming a Smart City. Barcelona is one such city that is leading the way in embracing the new developments in technology and integrating them with their city. Barcelona applies IoT technologies and solutions to manage its services and resources to improve quality of life for its citizens and visitors.
For example Barcelona has a smart system that manages the traffic light system along the approximate route to a fire or an accident: it sets the lights at green until the emergency vehicles have passed and then returns them to their standard setting. This means that the route remains clear of traffic, allowing the fire brigade to arrive on site more quickly and more safely, without causing disruptions to the flow of other traffic
What will IoT offer Entrepreneurs?
You only need to look at businesses such as Amazon, Ebay, AirBnB and Uber to see how entrepreneurs behind these ventures have succeeded in delivering services in a far quicker, cheaper and better fashion than the traditional players in their respective industries. They did this by leveraging the internet and more specifically the social web that is defined as web 2.0.
In the same way, technology developments related to the Internet of Things offer entrepreneurs huge opportunities to leverage these capabilities to redefine industries and services that we know today and to innovate and offer new services and solutions to existing problems.
Challenges for All
Security is a key determinant of how quickly and broadly everyone will embrace the Internet of Things. Most of us understand the security risks associated with our already connected lives that involve you, your smartphone and your PC or laptop. IoT adds another dimension of connectivity to our lives that will literally bring in billions of connected devices into our world.
As we connect to more physical objects, service providers and suppliers will have access to a large amount of data related to us. Hence our privacy and how this data will be used and governed will be of concern and importance to most of us. Regulators today are still grappling with how we manage privacy related to our existing connected lives. Perhaps they are trying to solve yesterdays problems.
A future with IoT looks interesting
The internet of things arena is evolving at a rapid pace and the impact it will have on everything around us is likely to be profound. Whether you are in business, a government organisation or thinking about how IoT will impact your personal life and your future generation, it is a good time to start looking at how Internet of Things may be able to help you achieve your goals.