What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Fitbit on your wrist, the smartphone in your handbag, and the Lumi Pampers diapers that alert parents when their baby’s nappy needs changing, are some real-world examples of the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Internet of Things connects computing devices, machines, objects, animals or people with the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. In other words, it connects things to operate together without needing humans to be present.
For businesses, IoT brings exciting opportunities by providing access to better data about their services or products and internal systems, and as a result, they are able to make changes for improvement that impact the bottom line and the customer experience.
Examples of Internet of Things devices for consumers include smart TVs, toys, wearables and diapers, to name but a few.
Internet of Things is enabled by a few technologies:
- Wireless sensor networks
- Cloud computing
- Embedded systems
- Big data analytics
- Semantic search engines
- Security protocols & architectures
- Communication protocols
- Web services
- Mobile internet
Three of the most common real-world examples of IoT applications include:
- Smart homes: managing your home through technology without having to be physically present. For example, using an app to switch on the oven 10 minutes before arriving home from work, or turning on the lights when you’re in France on vacation.
- Wearables: Wearable devices installed with sensors and software, for example, fitness trackers like Fitbit and smartwatches.
- Smartphones: smartphones are devices that enable IoT for many consumers who are able to control their homes, get feedback from wearables, and so on, all from their phones.
Importance of IoT
Internet of Things benefits consumers and business alike. For consumers, it cuts down wasted time and provides convenience and smart solutions. For businesses, it promotes efficiency, decreases human risk, provides economic benefits and decreases the need for human involvement which saves costs.
In addition, it:
- Makes analytics more accurate and faster
- Enhances real-time marketing of goods
- Improves the customer experience
- Provides guaranteed high-quality and secure processing of data
What is Industrial IoT (IIoT)?
Although the aim of the Internet of Things in general, is to automate and improve processes, don’t make the mistake of confusing IoT with IIoT.
The idea behind IoT for consumers devices is about convenience, fun or entertainment, while the IIoT, for manufacturing, retail, utilities and transport industries, or even healthcare of government, empower businesses to make better decisions and predictions, gives them a view of how their production lines are operating, and cuts down on downtime. Costs are reduced by making utilities self-monitoring; retailers can understand bottlenecks, and transport organisations are able to better understand fleet performance.
Benefits of IoT for telcos
Internet of Things for telcos bring the following benefits:
- Data analytics help telcos foster critical business insights, and understand patterns. When using IoT data together with big data analytics, telecom companies are able to build predictive models for future industry trends.
- Telcos can use radio-based, less power-consuming wide area networks (i.e. low power WAN) and develop IoT-based products and services for new revenue streams.
- Avoid equipment failure that leads to loss of reputation and revenue with real-time monitoring, even from remote sites. By using IoT, telcos are able to reduce costs and make power management more efficient.
- Reduce the risk of having expensive equipment stolen, even at remote sites by installing IoT-powered smart cameras at remote sites to pick up any on-site tampering and alert relevant parties in real-time. Restrict access to unauthorized individuals, creating better security protocols. In addition, the same can be applied to safety hazards like fire and so on.
Security and IoT
Internet of Things brings great benefits, but it also brings concerns which must be addressed.
Unfortunately, there are many companies that are in a rush to get their product out in the market first but neglect making security and privacy a priority, leading to huge security risks like unsecured entry points and the misuse of personal information. In addition, the lack of proper IoT security protocols will facilitate attacks on other systems.
Because IoT collects extremely sensitive data over a network, security and data privacy should be made a top priority, and businesses need to ensure that IoT networks are isolated and protected. If people and things are not safe, the reputation of the business is at stake.
IoT is changing the world as we know it; from the way, we grow our food, to living our daily lives and driving to and from places.
Internet of Things can reduce traffic congestion, waste buildup, increase the safety of citizens, make our lives easier and enable us to do things better.
It will connect things, animals, produce and people, to bring us smart cities.
There are already billions of devices connected, and it is predicted that by the year 2025, there will be 75.44 billion connected devices worldwide.