Following on from January’s article on Big Data, I have been asked a few times what the ‘Internet of Things’ really is, and what it means for businesses. So here is a brief wander into the world of the Internet of Things, according to Loaded Dice.
A bit like the term ‘Big Data’, ‘The Internet of Things’ (or IoT) is not a new concept, and is jargon for devices and equipment that are connected together over the internet. It’s been an idea in technical circles for ages, and one of the first examples was created for an internet networking show in 1989 - a toaster connected to and controlled by the internet.
No matter the name, it is a concept that is real and products and services continue to appear as technology evolves. One commonplace example is smart meters provided by utilities companies. Being connected via the internet, they offer a range of benefits for consumer and supplier, like no longer having to send someone out to read the meter to gathering and using automated data to identify where to improve energy efficiency in the home.
From farming to fridges and healthcare to cars, there is serious innovation that is connecting via Bluetooth, WiFi, mobile and other technologies to the internet. Software is continuously swapping data, monitoring for pre-determined events and predicting time to failure, or in the case of a connected fridge, when to buy a new pint of milk.
Some in the insurance industry are using bespoke apps to test driving behaviour in-car, reducing the cost of insurance for safer drivers. A UK-based train company is testing Bluetooth ticketing for trains, where the traveller uses their Bluetooth connected device to be charged the best fare. Imagine the reduction in accidents due to safer driving or reduction of waste due to ticketless travel.
It is way too early to really understand where this will really take us. What is certain is that the explosion of problem solving made possible by IoT is happening now, and will continue as companies keep innovating.
And the opportunity for business? By creating hardware, software, apps and connected systems that exploit the Internet of Things, businesses can drive efficiencies, get a better understanding through automated data management and improve customer purchase, service and experience.