As the adoption of IoT began to ramp up, more things became apparent — particularly regarding the benefits it can offer the average operation.
From about 2016 on, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been a popular buzzphrase. Nearly every influencer, marketer and analyst has some investment in the technology, with calls to adopt it on a widespread level or invest in its growth. Some even claim it might fail miserably.
As the adoption of IoT began to ramp up, more things became apparent — particularly regarding the benefits it can offer the average operation. By utilizing the data collected and transmitted from connected devices, companies have seen unprecedented efficiency and cost improvements, but also many boons to oversight.
Take the supply chain, for example, which involves logistics and monitoring in retail and service industries. IoT can be used to track goods from their source or point of origin all the way to distribution. In food and beverage, this changes the game completely because it affords a level of transparency never before seen. It can help prevent disasters like food-borne illness, allows companies to identify operational flaws and even presents new opportunities.
These changes are largely positive, and they’re reported across all industries, from manufacturing to modern health care.
Gartner’s prediction that the total number of internet-connected devices will grow to 20 billion by 2020 is a lofty estimate, but when you consider what the technology is doing in the world of business, it makes a lot of sense.
IoT for Modern Business: Overcoming the Challenges
To understand what the technology is doing, one must first consider the many challenges and shortcomings that exist. Like all things, IoT is not a perfect medium, and some obstacles must be solved over the coming years. Rather than cover everything, it's best to focus on the two most important problems that need to be addressed.
The first relates to data security and general cybersecurity. Because internet-ready devices are constantly collecting and reporting data, they are susceptible to outside attacks. They could also be hijacked to do nefarious things. Imagine if a factory’s IoT control unit is modified by a potential hacker to ruin the output of all goods or components. The sheer cost of damage it could cause the parent company would be crippling.
Furthermore, the endless streams of data flowing in and out could be the secret to unlocking many new opportunities, but they are generally underutilized. So many organizations are unprepared for dealing with a massive influx of information, which means the bulk of digital content goes to waste. Unsurprisingly, 60 percent of enterprises are not able to collect, process and extract data generated from IoT platforms.
As we can see, the biggest shortcomings and challenges stem from a lack of preparation. With the right security solutions and protocols in place, as well as the correct tools and operational strategies, enterprises can make safer and better use of the data IoT technologies afford. It’s easier said than done, but there are solutions. Endpoint security to protect disparate IoT and connected devices can help lock down data and open connections.
It takes time to make the necessary preparations, but we’ll get there as a community.
How Is IoT Actually Impacting Business?
Hypotheticals and lofty claims aside, it’s better to remain grounded in reality — especially when you’re looking for future proof or to better prepare business operations. So, how are IoT devices or internet-ready systems influencing modern business? Is the change good or bad?
Because there are a lot of benefits to be had from adopting IoT, and the greater business world is starting to realize at least some of the technology’s potential, funding for related projects has increased. More investors are willing to explore and discuss the idea of IoT-related projects and expansions. This has helped create an incredible opportunity for small and startup businesses. When mixed with local funding, IoT-related startups have the opportunity to work with some of the biggest corporations in existence to promote innovation. You can see why this would be good for business as a whole.
The technology is also being used in a multitude of ways to improve existing operations, boost output and development, streamline information sharing — particularly with the customer — and create remote work and control opportunities. On a grand level, it’s changing business operations for the better.
However, all this change means the entire business world is in a constant state of flux, and it will stay that way, at least for the foreseeable future. Some industries are disappearing altogether, some will merge with similar fields and others will change radically. Delivery and logistics, for instance, may be completely automated in the future. Manufacturing is now closer to the consumer, allowing for incredible personalization and design controls — 3D printing is at the forefront of that change. Transportation may even be automated in its entirety soon, thanks to a mix of AI and driverless technologies, as well as IoT.
We’ve come a long way since 2016 and the early years of IoT, and it’s being used to do some remarkable things. At the same time, we also have a long way to go before it reaches its true potential. For now, it’s safe to claim it provides guaranteed improvements in efficiency, costs savings, smarter and more robust controls, and an endless supply of insight. As for how that will evolve over time, it remains to be seen.