What Is The Internet of Things, and What Does It Mean for Business?

Screen shot 2015-07-10 at 3.08.18 PMThe Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t really about things at all; it’s about data, and lots of it, traveling between devices – devices attached to everything from refrigerators to vehicles.

Sometimes also called “the Internet of Everything,” IoT is a network of objects with sensors, software, or electronics that connect those objects so they can exchange data. Some experts have said that the IoT will consist of nearly 26 billion “things” by the year 2020.

The idea of a connected world is happening, whether it’s smart cars or smart medical devices. But what does that mean for the business world? While it’s impossible to predict all the opportunities and connections that will arise as this technology grows, it will no doubt impact the way businesses operate.

On a broad scale, IoT will – and maybe already is doing so – impact almost everything in your day. Monitoring will show you available parking spaces in your city; smart highways could warn drivers about traffic jams or detours; intelligent shopping data collection will gather customer habits and preferences; supply chain control will come from monitoring of storage conditions along the supply chain and product tracking.

While your business might not be directly affected by the IoT – for instance you might have no need to connect to shipping logistics or agricultural monitoring – there’s no doubt it will impact you.

Data

Together with cloud computing, IoT means connectivity is reaching unprecedented levels, and that means there’s a lot of data being generated. Whether or not you’re the direct recipient of that data, you’ll be doing business in a world that becomes accustomed to gathering and using it.

More data will also mean more applications to operate the amount of devices connected to the Internet.

 Security

With data and sensors that collect data come concerns over security. As this Forbes article quips, “With billions of devices being connect together what can people to do make sure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network?”

More data sharing and more connections mean businesses are more vulnerable online. Investing in security online is always a good idea, but as data sharing and cloud computing grow, it will be even more important. Privacy issues will also likely continue to be a pressing concern as connectivity grows, and companies will have to be able to reassure customers that their data is safe.

New data management and increased security needs could also create new job opportunities.

Infrastructure

How to track, store, and analyze all that data? Will web hosts be able to handle the huge amount of data that will be going back and forth on the Internet? For some companies, it will be important to look for shared hosting so they will be equipped to take on emerging trends.

If your business is one that might actively gather and analyze data, it will also be important to invest in sensors and data intelligence.

While the IoT is still taking shape, there’s no doubt it will influence the world in which we do business, and how we do business. Even for companies that doubt they’ll be directly involved with IoT, it can’t hurt to stay abreast of what others in your industry are doing technology-wise.

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