“Internet of things” – the buzzword that is recently taking the tech world is actually an old concept. The first instance of the concept being used would be Carnegie Mellon University’s Coke Machine which they connected to the internet to monitor the number of soda cans in the machine as well as their temperature.
Old concept given new life (Screenshot from Google Trends)
Apart from the entertainment value, connecting things to the internet have a lot of applications. Consumers, governments, and entrepreneurs are recognizing the value of intereconnectivity between commonly-used devices that has a projected $14.4 trillion value spread over the next decade.
So what is Internet of Things? Sometimes called “internet of everything”, it is defined by Global McKinsey Institute as devices that “can monitor their environment, report their status, receive instructions, and even take action based on the information they receive.”
With the rise of wearables like Google Glass and Apple Watch, the future of internet of things is no longer a future but a present.
Internet of Business Things
As an emerging and untapped market, the internet of things industry is populated not only by big players such as Cisco and Intel, but also tech startups as well. Angel investor site AngelList shows almost 1,500 investors invested in 539 IoT startups, all of which are expected to grow.
An explosion of internet connected devices (Graph via HBR, data from BI Intelligence)
According to Business Insider Intelligence, from now to 2018, there would be an exponential growth in devices excluding smartphones and tablets connected to the internet. And businesses are at the front end of this boom.
The main driver? Operational efficiency.
All businesses are driven by data. Inventories, chemical ingredients, revenues, expenses, numbers and more numbers are all key factors in business processes and decision-making. IoT opens the possibility of real-time analytics and actions that could not only provide efficiency but also cut costs and provide better customer service.
But the benefits of Internet of Things comes with a great downside–security.
While connecting our inert devices to the internet greatly improves their functionalities and scale, they also inherit the internet’s vulnerabilities.
Hackers and Hacktivists flourish in an interconnected world (Photo credit: Ricardo Alguacil)
Just this year, the PlayStation Network was hacked, and thousands of photos of celebrities were hacked from Apple’s iCloud in what would be known as The Fappening.
For current IoT devices such as smart TVs, webcams, and thermostats, 70% are vulnerable to security attacks caused by poor password management and insufficient authentication. And with the projected scale of Internet of Things, probably whole cities, possibly whole countries, hackers have a bigger data pie to feast on.
Brace yourselves. Internet ubiquity is coming.
You didn’t see him coming, did you? (Photo from Game of Thrones)
Internet of Things is all but inevitable. And it wouldn’t hurt to prepare yourself and your business for it. Here are some ways you can leverage on the birth of this technology:
1. Minimize techophobia in the workplace.
IoT-related markets such as wearables, specifically Google Glass, drew some flak because of privacy concerns. Google Glass “Explorers” are now dubbed with the derogatory name “Glassholes” and are banned from public places such as restaurants and cinemas for fear of privacy intrusions. (Why they worry about privacy in a public place is beyond me.)
This concerns and other technological fears can be eradicated through education. People fear what they don’t understand and your employees and partners would stick to what is comfortable than use a different, more efficient process.
That said, you shouldn’t use untested technology immediately on your company assets. That goes without saying, right?
2. Plan restructures in the business process and data management.
Operational efficiency is the main driver of IoT in business. It’s arrival would mean cutting down redundant steps in your business, even as far as removing the human factor in the process. Increase the security of your data, especially with confidential ones. Always backup.
Of course, adapting IoT for your business might be far off in the future, but this could be an opportunity to make your process leaner. Preparing for IoT would just be an accidental benefit.
3. Stay abreast with the latest IoT news
Internet of Things is still in its infancy stage but the potential is enormous, similar to the dawn of the internet during the 2000s. If you’re planning on a startup, perhaps you should consider being in this industry.
If not, you should still watch for the latest news on IoT, perhaps even investing on some of the emerging startups. AngelList has a nifty list of IoT startups you might be interested on.
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How prepared are you for Internet of Things? Tell us in the comments below.