How has the Internet of Things moved from emerging technology to adopted practice?
Once upon a time it was a buzzword amongst many others, seemingly (and ironically) disconnected from the real world. From a remote concept to an increasingly commonplace practice, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become an accelerated trend which looks set to continue.
What is the Internet of Things?
Believed to be first used back in 1999, the phrase essentially means giving everyday objects network connectivity, so they can send, receive and – crucially – act on data.
The term Internet of Things (IoT) refers to any device that is connected to the internet. It could be anything from a smartphone to a fitness tracker or a home automation device like Amazon’s Alexa.
In the business world, it’s more commonly found in sensors, used in office buildings to help monitor things like occupancy and temperature, or in the manufacturing sphere where they are used to connect machinery.
In short, it’s the technology that makes buildings and businesses talk, turning everything that goes on within them into usable data – opening up a wealth of opportunity to refine and improve your business operations.
How did this trend accelerate?
While connecting electronic devices is nothing particularly new, adding everyday objects into the equation has turned connectivity into something transformative.
Sweeping advances in technology meant the Internet of Things quickly gained traction. Developments in discreet sensors and chips, advances in computer power, storage and wireless network capacity combined with ever-increasing software knowledge all created a perfect storm to enable successful connected technology.
The financial implications of IoT have also led to the accelerated trend. 35% of companies view IoT as a cost-saving initiative. But interestingly, 31% feel it can drive new revenue. As live data can lead to significant energy savings, businesses will see reduced costs. But strategic planning using this data can also, for example, lead to increased production. A win-win situation.
And if forecasts prove accurate, the trend is set to soar. Estimates suggest over 50 billion things are connected to the internet, and the McKinsey Global Institute forecasts it will add a staggering $11 trillion to the global economy by 2025.
IoT has become part of a digital transformation for a significant number of businesses. With 63% of those with current IoT initiatives saying they are not standalone projects, it’s clear that this technology is being incorporated into everyday business practice, embedded into company-wide process. It goes deeper than being a new technology to add to a portfolio. Rather, it’s about bringing together the entire ecosystem of IoT to become part of an organisation’s DNA.
As we’ve outlined above, the Internet of Things needs many ‘things’ in place to work. Separately, these components won’t offer results. Brought together, in the right way, they work in perfect synergy to deliver precise levels of data not seen in previous generations.
Getting started with IoT
Adopting any type of new practice in your business can make managers wary. Upfront investments, ROI, disruption – there are many barriers that can stand in the way. But consider if you had never adopted the technologies you currently have in place. Your business operations would be lacking. And bringing in an IoT ecosystem doesn’t need to be a leap of faith. There is plenty of evidence out there to show you what benefits it can bring.
To get the most effective system, the first step is to consider how you’d like to use smart technology within your building. Is it for energy management, occupation monitoring, desk booking – everything? Getting an idea of the scope of your projects is a good place to start. You could start small and just introduce one aspect of connected technology. Once you have that up and running, you can monitor results.
Once you’ve developed your roadmap, you can ask your provider to offer you a trial run, or pilot, of your IoT solution. Hardware and software combine together to form the end product, and asking for a prototype or example can help you visualise how the solution will work in situ.
The partnership of smart IoT sensors and software is fast becoming a significant asset to organisations, as the upward trend for connected devices continues.