There are many phrases and terms that may sound strange or unfamiliar to you, and if that is the case, the internet is the place to go. In fact, when faced with something they don’t know, most people’s reaction is to “Google it”. Yes, we don’t even use the term “search for it”; the name of the leading internet search engine is used to describe our actions, proof that the internet is at the heart of everyday life.
With that in mind, many people are keen to find out what the Internet of Things means.
What is The Internet of Things (IoT)?
Rather than making things complicated, you will find that the IoT can be described simply. The IoT is all about allowing devices to connect online, allowing them to talk to each other, to applications and to us. The most common example to describe the IoT is a smart fridge that knows when your milk is out of date or that you have no milk and then acts upon this information. You may receive a text message informing you that have no milk or that your milk is out of date, or it may even be that the smart fridge is able to connect with an app or online account and actually order new milk.
It may be that you already have applications of The Internet of Things taking place in your home and you just don’t realise it. In the United Kingdom, the most common use of IoT, so far at least, centres on home heating and energy consumption. There has been support from this technology from the Government, who have pressurised energy firms to provide smart metres. There are many different devices to choose from and some work in different or even multiple ways.
There is a growing ability for people to turn on or access their heating remotely, commonly through apps on their tablet or smartphone devices. There are smart metres that can gauge the temperature, either by linking to an app or sensor, and will adjust the heating levels according to the temperature. There are even some smart devices that through the use of motion-sense cameras can tell if you are not at home, and will make a decision on whether to turn the heating off or not. All of these actions come under the IoT banner and they are all ways in which people’s lives can be made an awful lot easier.
While the capabilities of the devices and this technology is important in the home (with many people also benefitting from being able to record their favourite TV shows while being out of the home or controlling music playback devices from all around and outside the property), the long-term focus and hope for IoT comes on its use across smart cities, helping whole communities to benefit. The evolution being made with respect to home owners and their devices is important enough its own right, helping homeowners to enjoy a more comfortable and efficient home but the advances being made in these areas may also help entire cities or local area to enjoy a more effective and pleasant lifestyle.
When it comes to rolling out the IoT to a wider audience, some of the most common examples include connected traffic lights and signs that are able to monitor utility use to allow for a more efficient flow of traffic. Another area that will be of benefit to individuals and local authorities is the notion of smart bins. These devices will send a signal when they need to be emptied, ensuring that efficient waste management can be undertaken.
Understanding the capabilities of IoT on a small scale allows people to dream and think bigger. You can imagine the benefit to major companies and industries about being informed about the need to replace parts or to even monitor the growth and development of much needed items. Whether a farmer or company is keen to measure the growth of crops to monitoring the progress of items being delivered, the IoT is set to transform lives and businesses in a hugely effective manner.
Is IoT safe?
Most technological advances and breakthroughs bring about a great range of benefits and an improvement to people’s lives, but it is only right that people approach any new technology with caution. This is why there are many people questioning the safety of the IoT? When devices connect and share information about people, you can see why there will be concerns over the security and privacy of these details.
You may not think that information about how much milk you use or how much energy you use is too important but the information that is collated by these devices could be of benefit. After all, if a smart metre knows when you are home or not, this is the sort of information that could be of great benefit to burglars and robbers. This may not be the most obvious crime or the most likely risk of this advancing style of technology, but it is important that people are aware of the concerns and that the people advocating the IoT can address concerns that people have.
At the moment, there is more work being done on hacking IoT devices by security professionals and experts than actual hackers. At the moment, there isn’t enough incentive or reward on offer for a hacker to hack into smart systems and collect and then decipher data. This isn’t always going to be the case though and it may be that this style of crime will be one that people have to be aware of. Any opportunity that arises for people to make a financial benefit will see potential crimes taking place and the professionals who are currently testing and hacking IoT devices are looking to make the systems safer and more robust.
In the grand scheme of things, use of these devices is no less safe than using a PC, laptop or tablet at home or in the office, so it is not as though the IoT should cause people too many concerns. There will be measures people can take to further protect themselves and their information, and if these devices are used as guided, they should be able to be safeguarded from attack. However, like any technological product, it is important for people to be aware of possible implications of using these devices. The fact that the people supporting, backing and developing IoT devices are well aware of the current security limitations and are working towards making safer devices should be seen as a positive thing.
Businesses will drive IoT and improve safety
One of the reasons why people can be confident about sterling work being implemented with respect to IoT security comes with the fact that businesses realise how important IoT can be to their business. Different industries will have their own thoughts and ideas about the relevancy of IoT to their working practices but the way that this style of connection can be used are almost limitless.
There were many people who were sceptical about the use and growth of computers and the internet in modern business and it is likely that the IoT will become as omnipotent as these aspects. These devices are already helping homes to become more efficient, so you can see why businesses will be able to benefit from implementing energy saving devices and metres in a place of work. A workplace that is energy efficient saves money, so that will always be of interest and benefit to businesses. Of course, what some businesses are looking for, and some people fear, is how IoT may be used to track employees and evaluate their true work rate. Many businesses and industries have placed a greater level of focus on employee efficiency and the technologies associated with IoT could allow companies to better evaluate how hard their employees are actually working. This is an area that will create debate and concern but given the progress in employee management that firms have already made, it could be argued that this is an area where businesses have already claimed success.
Is IoT real?
One of the most commonly asked questions on Google about IoT, after “what is IoT?” is “is IoT real?” There is no getting away from the fact that for many people, IoT is just a marketing device, being used to generate hype and generate feedback and information that can allow businesses to squeeze sales and gain customer information. Returning to the smart fridge example, there is a benefit to the property owner in never running out of milk but there will also be a big boost to the supermarket or store that receives the order. Companies will be clamouring to have their store or business affiliated with these IoT devices to ensure that they are the ones that receive customer expenditure. Being able to generate sales from customers who aren’t in your store or even fully aware of their need for a product is a dream come true for most businesses, and you can see why a lot of firms and industry sectors are keen for the IoT to be seen as real and a boon to modern living.
Conversely, there will be lots of people who consider this as an affront to daily life. Yes, there is a convenience that comes with knowing you won’t run out of milk but this may also be a step too far for many people. It will be argued that picking up milk is hardly a big inconvenience for many people. There will even be an argument that this style of device could see a company lose sales. If you have ever had to nip to your local store because you have ran out of milk think about your buying practices? Do you only ever buy milk or do you end up picking up a lot of additional items? Store owners know that many people come in specifically for milk, and this is why you rarely find milk at the front door or next to the till. You need to make your way past a wide range of products, inevitably seeing you pick up more than just the milk you came in for. In this regard, the IoT may help people to save money and be more efficient in their spending. If you are the sort of consumer that is prone to impulse purchases, allowing your smart fridge to make buying decisions for you could actually save you money.
In the short space of time, we’ve managed to ponder the fact that for some people, the device will lead to more spending and a lack of control of spending while for other people; the IoT could actually help people to save money and be far more efficient in their spending. In this regard, it has to be said that the Iot is real, but ultimately, the real reason why the IoT is real is because it will impact on so many industries, areas and people. The idea of a smart fridge that makes buying decisions for you may eventually become unpopular and not be offered but the benefits that come from sensors and devices making decisions without human input are real, and far too many people and businesses will want to benefit from them to stop IoT now.
It is likely that the IoT will not be the eventual name that is settled on for this style of connectivity. It may even be that there isn’t a name because there is a strong chance that this level of connectivity will become so commonplace in modern life. While no one can say for definite about the timescale when the IoT will be a notable feature in everyday life, it is fair to say that its use and appearance is creeping forward every day. In some industries, IoT is at the heart of everyday working, helping firms to be more effective and efficient than ever before. Even if you are unsure of how IoT will impact on your industry, it is of benefit to make yourself away of the implications and features associated with this advancing technology.
IoT Consultancy Services
Given that the Internet of Things is a new and emerging practice and way of working, it is understandable that many businesses and people don’t know a lot about it. The natural reaction of businesses and people when they are faced with something that they don’t know, is to avoid. There are not enough hours in the day for people and businesses to spend time focusing on new tactics, strategies, technologies and working practices. If a business jumped on every new working practice or technique that came about, there would be no time or money left for work, and this would see a company go bust rather quickly.
However, businesses also know that if they don’t expand, develop and grow, they will be left behind. Firms that moved quickly with the internet or with social media platforms and who grasped the potential and working practices of these aspects have prospered. Firms who ignored the idea or who jumped on board without learning how to use these elements properly have struggled, and many have disappeared. The IoT is not going to go away and firms that understand the benefits that come from utilising this technology stand the best chance of prospering from it.
Placing yourself in a position where you can deploy effective networked devices that offer information, data and can make decisions on key aspects in your business has to be a good thing. Of course, given that you need to make right decisions, it is best to call on the services of an IoT consultant that can offer guidance and advice. There is a great deal to be said for outsourcing certain parts of your business and the IoT aspect is a perfect example.
Working with an IoT specialist or consultant allows you to move quick, move effectively and also give you the chance to learn and develop an understanding of what IoT really is. This means that by the time your industry is truly waking up to the capabilities of what IoT can offer, you will not only have a system in place, you will understand how to make the most of the system.
The first step in making the most of any device or platform is setting it up properly. Many machines and devices come with the IoT technology already built-in, but can you be sure that the devices are properly set-up and recording/sending the right information. Information is vital for all businesses and this means that the information obtained and retained by a firm has to be right. For peace of mind with respect to the information you gather and send with IoT devices, call on the services of an experienced IoT installation firm.
The first step of IoT analysis comes with checking the information that is being sent and returned to ensure it is working properly. After this though, the information that is being sent and received by the connected devices and sensors can be of great benefit to any business. No matter the industry you are working in, information about energy consumption, production levels, product usage and other measurable aspects are all huge and can have a great impact on your business. The thing is though, so many businesses have this information but they don’t know how to use it. There is often a focus on gaining information and developing business and customer intelligence but this isn’t the end point, in fact, it is just the beginning.
To make any use of the information provided by IoT devices, there is a need to be able to analyse this information and then break it down into data and details that can be understood and acted upon. Knowing the level of demand for a product is one thing but being in a position to fill that demand and ensuring that supply is in place is another thing. This is where taking the IoT information is important because when understood properly, it helps businesses to make decisions that allow the business to be a success and grow.
Our IoT analysts are highly experienced in retrieving and analysing the data and information that is gathered by these devices, and then breaking it down into something more manageable and actionable. Whether you want to focus on costs, security, economic issues, energy consumption or any factor, our IoT analysts will ensure that you understand and can act upon the data that you receive.
As the IoT is a new thing, there are not too many companies or consultancies who can offer you specialist support. We are able to help you:
- Understand the Internet of Things
- Deploy the Internet of Things
- Analyse information provided by the Internet of Things
- Make decisions based on the Internet of Things
- Benefit from the Internet of Things
From making sure your network is connected in a secure and effective manner, to ensuring you can prosper by utilising the information provided by the IoT, we are here to ensure you benefit from this emerging technology.
Anyone or any business that requires guidance, assistance advice or even consultancy on Internet of Things will find that we can provide the support you need. We can offer presentations and printed guidance but to fully understand and comprehend the IoT, there is a need to discuss matters and see it in action. New and emerging technology can seem like a foreign language to many businesses or individuals, but this is where we are here to help. If you need to interpret the benefits of these devices and why they can positively impact on your business or life, get in touch. The IoT is not going to go away and if you are keen to capitalise on the benefits provided by the Internet of Things, make sure you work with the IoT experts.