The Internet of Things and the use of connected devices is becomingly increasingly present throughout our everyday lives. From refrigerators and door locks, to lamps and heating appliances – all of which you can control from your mobile phone. It is fair to say, the Internet of Things (IoT) has truly evolved and will continue to change the way we live and work, making a powerful ecosystem of smart devices a reality.
IoT is rapidly becoming one of the key topics in technology, and is continuing to grow across a number of industries as the rate of innovation shows no signs of slowing down.
Across our homes, IoT has turned day to day objects into connected devices designed to make our lives simpler, more comfortable and convenient. Connected devices such as connected electricity meters and doorbells have already existed for several years, giving consumers a glimpse of the numerous possibilities IoT has to offer.
Momentum in the industry is continuing to intensify, with the worldwide connected home market predicted to grow from its $24 billion valuation in 2016, to $53 billion by the year 2022.
Smart devices have certainly made their mark amongst consumers, but this isn’t the only place where IoT is having a significant impact. Connected devices are also quickly becoming more commonplace in industrial settings such as factories and hospitals, as well as in traditional office environments.
It’s an opportunity rich area that more and more device manufacturers are trying to utilise and one that has endless possibilities – especially for those businesses that can learn from what has already happened within the connected home.
Connected devices and the business environment
As the Internet of Things has become more mainstream, vendors and businesses alike have taken inspiration from the smart home model and have quickly realised that connected devices have plenty to offer a business environment.
From increased productivity and more accurate decision-making, to reduced production costs and a better understanding of customer needs, there are countless examples of how IoT is bringing value to enterprises around the world.
For example, manufacturing firms have started to deploy smart sensors in their factories for predictive equipment maintenance. This enables them to save valuable money in labour costs and lost revenue by proactively identifying issues before they become a major problem, rather than waiting for something to break down.
Similar ‘smart’ technology is also transforming vehicle management in logistics companies, with the data collected enabling businesses to become much more cost-efficient by reducing fuel spend and vehicle downtime.
Then there is retail, where IoT is being used at virtually all stages of the product journey. This starts with optimising the supply chain and using analytics to ensure the right products are in the right place at the right time, while also enabling brands to transform the in-store experience and connect with shoppers in a more personal way.
These are all hugely compelling use cases, but just the tip of the iceberg with regards to what the Internet of Things will make possible in the future.
So, it’s clear that IoT is set to gain substantial value within the enterprise over the coming years. But, for its potential to be realised, there is one key challenge that will first have to be overcome.
Harnessing data driven insights
The main driver for enterprise IoT is that the large volumes of data created by connected devices present a huge opportunity. By leveraging the power of analytics – either on a small scale or across large deployments – businesses can gain additional layers of insight into their operations and make improvements.
This is exactly what the smart home enables. By using connected products to track energy usage, for example, consumers can learn where they are spending the most money and become more cost-efficient.
However, from a business perspective, it can often be challenging to successfully and efficiently manage potentially thousands of different smart devices. Keeping track of the vast swathes of data being generated from devices in a range of different locations and from an assortment of vendors, is a serious enough issue on its own and is likely to be one of the biggest IoT challenges IT departments will face in the future.
Having several platforms that pull in different data streams should be avoided .Firstly this would be extremely confusing to manage, and secondly, a lack of direction would make it difficult to make a clear and accurate picture of what is really going on across the business.
Enterprises must take an integrated approach and just have one inclusive view of everything in order to effectively manage their IoT ecosystem.
By incorporating an effective device management strategy this will go a long way towards helping businesses make the most of all that the connected future has to offer. This means that IT teams will have a clear view of exactly what is going on across every single endpoint and enable them to increase the value of the data being collected.
Whilst there may be challenges along the way, advancements in consumer technology have already shown the impact IoT will have on our everyday lives. By taking the concept of the smart home even further and implementing the correct systems needed to efficiently manage the data collected, businesses will be able to take advantage of the astounding potential the Internet of Things has to offer.
Leigh Moody, UK Managing Director, SOTI
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