What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things, in simple terms, is the concept of connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices, and much more. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.
Kevin Ashton, the tech pioneer who coined the term ‘Internet of Things,’ defines it as such:
“The ‘Internet of Things’ means sensors connected to the internet and behaving in an internet-like way by making open, ad hoc connections, sharing data freely and allowing unexpected applications, so computers can understand the world around them and become humanity’s nervous system.”
What are the future prospects of IoT?
The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices in the IoT, while other estimates are much higher. And that point draws nearer, it’s estimated that $6 billion will flow into IoT solutions, including application development, device hardware, system integration, data storage, security, and connectivity. But that will be money well spent, as those investments are estimated to generate $13 trillion by 2025.
Conversations about the IoT have been taking place all over the world as people try to understand how IoT will impact industries and individuals. There is also discussion around what the many opportunities and challenges are going to be as more and more devices start to join the IoT.
But the fundamental trend as we head toward 2020 is clear: IoT is moving from good to great.
Applications of IoT
Today, over half (57 percent) of companies have already adopted IoT technology, and in the next two years that number is expected to reach 85 percent. With increased adoption, IoT’s real-world applications are really beginning to shine through. Here are some specific areas where IoT is helping to transform business:
- Using ‘smart workplaces’ to boost productivity and efficiency: seven in ten enterprises have introduced IoT devices and sensors into the workplace – from air conditioning and lighting systems to mobile devices. This is helping enterprises build smart workplaces, where important assets are tracked by location and utilities such as energy usage can be remotely monitored.
- The industrial sector is utilizing IoT to reduce risk and downtime: IoT devices can be used in applications ranging from chemical sensors to picking systems, reducing operational risk and addressing downtime. Using IoT to monitor and maintain operating infrastructures increases business efficiency, innovation, and visibility across the organization.
- Healthcare increases innovation and reduces cost through IoT: six in ten healthcare organizations are already using IoT, in applications ranging from patient monitors to X-ray and imaging devices. With growing pressure on healthcare infrastructures and resources, efficiency is paramount. Monitoring and maintaining medical devices, and remotely tracking assets, add to cost savings and create potential for new services.
- Retailers are utilizing IoT to enhance customer experiences: a leading application of IoT is to create store location services that are personalized to shoppers. IoT devices are also being used to remotely control heating and lighting within stores.
- Governments are saving costs with IoT, creating smart cities: Governments are building IoT-facilitated security systems, street lights, and vehicles to create a coherent technology environment. While the limitations of legacy technology are proving challenging, public sector IoT adopters are reporting cost savings and improved visibility across their organization.
The IoT Threat
Across regions and industries, the opportunities for IoT are vast. But some fundamental gaps still exist as IoT scales up in its uses and applications.
For all its benefits, IoT deployments risk leaving a backdoor wide open for attackers to exploit. As the growth of IoT continues, tighter security controls must be adhered to in order to close and lock that door. Even the most seemingly innocuous IoT devices should not be left unsecured.
A good IoT strategy must have a robust plan for keeping the system secure. Better control of IoT should come by first understanding the massive impact it has on individual businesses. IoT must be aligned to broad business objectives, and then analyzed across four key areas: visibility, security, innovation, and profitability.
Advantel and its partner network can help your enterprise navigate the IoT landscape, across a range of applications and uses. Do get in touch to learn more about how we can make IoT work – securely and efficiently – for your business.