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First step out of science fiction: Internet of things

It might be appropriate to change the classification of next-generation technologies. With widespread adoption and several companies reaping benefits from its use, the technology itself is more present than “next-gen.”

Think about it, in 1984 when Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in The Terminator, the very idea of artificial intelligence was nothing more than science fiction. Today, with enough effort, it’s easy to find at least a variant of its implementation around you. The internet of things is much the same, now holding the potential to topple traditional processes.

IoT is a little strange in that regard. It’s never been a standalone concept, functioning more as an encapsulation of all the other next-generation technologies.

But keeping industry pundits, ominous studies and even Stephen Hawking with their predictions of a technology takeover aside, a business works with more down-to-earth objectives, such as turning a profit or gaining customer satisfaction. In that regard, the internet of things is well on its way of stepping out of the realm of science fiction.

Gartner predicted a 31% increase in the number of connected devices in 2017 from 2016, approximating to around 8.4 billion devices. That number is expected to hit 20.4 billion by 2020. Given that scenario, expect IoT to impact your business significantly.

Let’s break down how this will happen.

Real-time data

Data loses value with time, and the more recent it is, the more optimized you are in your processes. For example, with crude gasoline tanks, an employee usually had to physically drive to the tanks — maybe miles away — and investigate the levels, identify inefficiencies and relay information regarding issues needing amendment back to the supplier.

With IoT, the truck, the tank and the physical reader feed into a connected application. This enables the reporting of real-time data with the tank, even if they are thousands of miles apart. The internet of things allows for a unique way of conducting business with suppliers. In a nutshell, by taking the waste from overproduction or by identifying situations of shortage, you lower your business’ cost structure significantly.

It’s just one example, but there’s no denying that with the adoption of IoT, businesses are in line to efficiently impact their bottom lines.

The internet is expanding

We are in an age of global shrinkage; communications are faster and the internet consumes data with blinding speed. Machines in constant and rapid communication — albeit a frightening idea as a parallel to science fiction — allow for immediate and effective action. Call it faster problem-solving.

Google Maps is also a result of constant device communication, and it’s the same with traffic analysis via predictive analytics. From an emotional standpoint, IoT could save lives as well.

Take the example of a truck on a relief mission with food supplies. In the olden days, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility for the driver to get lost midway. Not a good situation to be a part of, but IoT allows for lowered wastage with better planning, and even the identification of better avenues for helping people.

The dangers of universality

While not as severe as cyborgs with machine guns, there are some concerns about real-time access to analytics and information. The possibility of data breaches, security and even cyberthreats is concerning. Another potential glitch people often overlook is the loss of connectivity.

The internet, despite various advancements around it, does lose connectivity due to factors such as weather. In fact, the idea itself discourages an over-reliance on IoT.

It’s important to consider this point, regardless of your stance on technology — especially one such as the internet of things. There is merit in understanding both the advantages and disadvantages of its implementation.

In conclusion, it’s easy to state that IoT is critical for business owners to understand and act upon now more than ever before. The internet of things is universally pervasive, rapidly expanding and you’re either on the train that leads to business growth in the modern era or at the station of traditional yet inefficient methodologies. It’s probably a better idea to get on.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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