The Internet of Things is a growing network of connected smart devices all of which communicate with one another and, all of which can be accessed via the Internet. Today, your fitness tracker and your smartphone are plugged into the Internet of Things, but those are only two tiny, little consumer-facing products. In fact, the Internet of Things has been around for years and its transformation of the industrial and manufacturing sectors is well underway. The public sector will likely be next to take on the Internet of Things to optimize its city-planning and building processes. But today, it’s small business’s turn. If your business uses the Internet to conduct its services, it will have to adopt “IoT” technology to stay competitive within the next couple of years. Trust us. So everything’s connected, and this widespread connectivity is poised to infiltrate virtually every market out there. What does this mean? How will it impact my business, locally? First of all, it’s important to understand that this emerging technology is the product of breakthrough developments and much-needed improvements on four different, technological fronts. And it’s the convergence of these four technologies which have allowed the Internet of Things to go mainstream.
Network Connectivity. Our current Internet networks are comprised of fairly basic components ranging from cell towers to proxy servers, firewalls, and routers. The strength of our Internet connectivity in-office depends on the number of devices connected to the Internet, measured against our CPU capacity, power usage and cellular bandwidth. However, given the advent of the Internet of Things, connected devices, and the natural onslaught of Big Data that comes with it, it isn’t feasible for businesses to simply offload their connected devices onto their existing guest networks. That’s too much data for our networks to handle. The storage space, scalability and monitoring capability isn’t there. That’s why the Internet of Things will result in a shift toward our networks relying on online and virtualized servers. It frees up the storage space of physical, equipment, allows for high-speed on-site Internet connectivity, and enables businesses, in theory, unlimited storage and scaling capabilities.
Cybersecurity. The increased number of connected devices will make for an increased number in entry points for malware and other malicious software. If a device is connected, it can be hacked. Therefore, businesses will need to invest in security solutions which offer strong endpoint authentication and full-service data encryption between devices and servers.
Cloud-based computing. Data centers will face an overwhelming surge in Big Data that needs to be processed, analyzed and stored. Cloud-computing not only allows for unlimited, scalable storage space, but for the constant, real-time monitoring of all the data streaming in and the provision of actionable analytics for businesses to make informed decisions. With the Internet of Things, brings cloud-computing.
IT Infrastructure. From hardware and software components, to networking needs and connectivity management, adoption of the Internet of Things will require significant infrastructure development, across the board. The adjustments each business will have to make, really depends on devices they deploy. Many “IoT” devices don’t have a user interface which makes configuration a challenge for network administrators. Others devices are designed to be used by consumers, rather than an enterprise, and may therefore lack certain, necessary business features. At the end of the day, the Internet of Things is enabling an incredible bevy of products, along with new business models and business processes. For instance, it’s very easy to stretch your budget when the equipment or devices you use to conduct business are automatically programmed to analyze and optimize its energy usage or self-diagnose its need for maintenance. An overwhelming amount of data and automated processes are making businesses more informed, and operationally, more efficient. Furthermore, a shift from hardware to software is taking place, thanks to the rise of cloud-based computing and virtualization. The Internet of Things will catch up to everyone, eventually. The sooner you train your employees on both the customer-facing and internal processes, invest in improved data intelligence and improved infrastructure to support that volume of data, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Trust us.