How the Internet of Things is Changing Business

John Fink

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a relatively new term used to describe the relationship between modern digital technologies; it is a paradigm under which consumer technologies record data about their usage and operation and share it with relevant devices for certain purposes in a sprawling network of interconnected machines. The power of the Internet of Things is in task automation, by using the data recorded from usage analytics, devices within the IoT can satisfy simply and repetitive tasks with minimal to no human input. It allows for your home thermostat to know when you’ve arrived home based on your phone’s location data, and warm up your house for you; Or it sends you an email when the postman was detected as arriving at your front door through your IoT security camera. The potential for what tasks can be automated, and what quality of life improvements can be developed, are vast in scope.

The market for the Internet of Things is rapidly expanding. Research, development, and marketing of IoT enable devices from major tech developers has seem a massive uptick over the past decade, and it’s slated to grow ever larger, you may be familiar with several AI personal assistants that have become more popular in previous years and are often bumbled with modern smartphones and speakers. As of late 2018, Forbes predicted that world spending on Internet of Things technologies will reach 1.2 trillion in 2022. This growth in popularity and creative application of IoT devices has not only affected consumers but has also changed business in more than a few ways. How businesses interact within themselves, with other businesses, and with customers all have the potential to change with IoT technology, and many already do. Using them, data about internal operations and external interactions can be unified within one interconnected network of devices for easy access and organization. Here are just a few of the ways that the Internet of Things has affected business.

  1. Product Management: Using scanners, cameras, digital ID tags, sensors for pressure/impact/temperature/humidity, and computers to manage them all, buyers and sellers in the IoT world can track not only the location of a shipped or stored product, but the conditions of its storage and handling. Grocers can ensure that perishable food was stored at the correct temperature throughout handling, and a window pane installer can ensure that a tempered glass screen was not dropped at any point while shipping.
  2. Operations Management: By connecting devices to your workflow that measure the frequency of the completion of a task, it can be quantified how productive certain measures are without the need of a human observer. Scanners, switches, and computers that record the use of devices on a worksite can compile their data into an accurate summation of workplace efficiency. In a complimentary light, devices like smart locks, lights, and HVAC systems can help to automate certain simple tasks, increase security, and decrease waste.
  3. Customer Management: Through IoT enabled consumer devices, notably the popular AI personal assistants that are found on smartphones and speakers (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant), businesses can interact with their customers, and make sales, on a completely unprecedented platform, with an unprecedented amount of ease in making a sale for both buyer and seller. A good example of this is the Domino’s Pizza Alexa skill, by downloading it, you can shout at your Alexa enabled TV or speaker to order your favorite pizza without even requiring you to pick up your phone. This benefits Domino’s in that no employee time (and therefor, company money) is utilized to make the sale.

These are just a few of the ways that IoT devices are changing business. Several modular and bespoke technologies/software have been released recently with the aim of increasing consumer and business interconnectivity with the internet of things. Such devices are the raspberry pi and other popular small computer kits, the Amazon Alexa skills kit, AI assistant control interfaces like the Google Assistant Home, and more. There is a great opportunity now for businesses not only to integrate these technologies into their workflow, but to develop services that utilize the consumer versions of these technologies to increase their level of customer interaction.

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