Connected Car

As literally billions of devices are connecting with cellular networks, the Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming a focus of many industries. To take advantage of the opportunity, CIOs are prioritizing IoT and investing heavily in connected devices and related services. This quick overview provides a glimpse of IoT and what you can expect for your business.

What is IoT?

Even if you’ve never heard the term IoT, you may already be using connected services. For example, your new car may use wifi to connect with IoT services that integrate your smartphone contacts, calendar, and entertainment preferences into your driving experience. Google’s Nest Labs, Honeywell, and Belkin have all developed products that allow you to monitor and control your home—adjust your thermostat, get maintenance alerts from your smoke detector—from an app on your smart phone.

By 2020, there could be anywhere between 20 billion and 50 billion connected devices

But IoT reaches much farther than just these consumer applications. In fact, IoT has become a must-have in many industries from agricultural and industrial manufacturing to transportation and auto insurance. Smart Cities initiatives include tracking parking availability in real-time, and monitoring roads and bridges electronically. Smart Grid solutions monitor energy consumption and help reduce the risk of outages. Many companies are using IoT to improve logistics and operations, track and manage equipment, and monitor conditions within factories or office buildings. Businesses are now remotely managing thousands of devices nationwide or globally, automating alerts and performance standards to keep things running smoothly. For example, a vending machine firm can keep machines full and functioning using IoT services to detect inventory needs, and automatically order products and schedule deliveries.

As a working definition, IoT refers to physical objects (like that car or thermostat) embedded with wireless sensors and software that use internet connectivity to gather, store, and exchange data. On a consumer level, the Internet of Things reflects an ever-expanding list of connected devices designed to communicate with each other to make your life more convenient, comfortable, safe, and healthy. For businesses, IoT offers unprecedented opportunities to continuously engage customers and drive new revenue streams, as well as gather and analyze data to improve productivity, efficiency, and service reliability.

Top 5 tips about the Internet of Things (IoT)

  1. IoT is growing and will continue to grow.
    In 2008, there were already more devices connected to the internet than there were people on Earth. By 2020, there could be anywhere between 20 billion and 50 billion connected devices.
  2. IoT enhances customer experience.
    Despite its name, IoT is ultimately about people and service, not necessarily “things.” Connected devices can provide innovative new benefits that combine monitoring, communications, and analytics. IoT can also enable businesses to identify usage patterns and proactively engage with customers in tailored ways.
  3. IoT promises new ways to solve tough problems.
    While the limitless potential of IoT is fascinating, the value of IoT will come from addressing concrete consumer and business needs. Best to avoid the “shiny object”; start with a clear statement of the problem and consider IoT as one way of addressing it.
  4. IoT will produce a deluge of new data.
    IoT is already transforming operational and organizational requirements. It’s imperative to have strategies for monitoring and managing this data, and analyzing the data to obtain actionable insights.
  5. IoT delivers cost savings and more.
    For many companies, the return on investment of IoT is coming from driving down costs and improving operational efficiency. Add to that the vast potential to create new revenue streams, engage with customers in unprecedented ways, and innovate new business models.

This article is the first in a four-part IoT series on our blog.

Also follow @beyondthearc on Twitter for 100 days of tweets on how IoT is revolutionizing our future. #Iot100 #BTAinsights

Bottom line: IoT is the driving force toward a more connected world, benefiting businesses and consumers alike. It’s more than just the next big thing; you can consider IoT the future status quo.

Read more in our IoT series:

Pt 2: 4 ways the Internet of Things is transforming customer experience
Pt 3: Banking and IOT – The Internet of Things will redefine financial services
Pt 4: How the Internet of Things will change the future of marketing