The Internet of Things (IoT)—What It Is and What You Need to Know
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a topic on which business owners and individuals alike should gain a deeper understanding. The extent to which the IoT will affect your life or your company (or already is), depends on various factors. For businesses, this includes your industry and business purpose, as well as your location.
What is the IoT?
Simply put, it’s the result of the evolution of the internet. Originally, the internet was intended to be a network to connect computers. From there, it expanded to phones and portable devices, like tablets. Soon after, however, it rapidly expanded to an array of “smart” electronic devices, such as: televisions, refrigerators, vacuums, HVAC, and security systems, to name a few. This is now what’s known as the Internet of Things.
How does this affect you?
You may already be familiar with the IoT (even if you haven’t called it that). For example, many construction companies have already had to adapt to installing HVAC systems with real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities. Meanwhile, many manufacturers use IoT tech to obtain and analyze production data in real time, while other types of companies may be using IoT-connected vehicles to improve logistics and better handle fleet management.
Even if your business isn’t using any IoT devices or equipment just yet, “smart” tech might be integrated in your personal life. From your office building to your home or the stores you frequent, most buildings are now equipped with sensors that allow us to remotely monitor and control temperature, lighting, and security, among other things. Additionally, numerous devices we use on a regular basis are connected to the internet, making them part of the web of the IoT.
Why learn about (and go) “smart”?
For businesses and individuals, it’s time to start understanding which IoT devices, equipment, and systems are becoming more commonplace, for two big reasons:
- To gain or maintain a competitive edge. Many companies today are undergoing “digital transformations” as they move away from paper-based processes and brick-and-mortar locations. Although there are risks and challenges, businesses that leverage smart tech (and get the IoT right) may be able to reduce costs, gain operational efficiencies, and enhance their ability to harness data to boost productivity and profitability. IoT can help your business improve in areas such as: HR, training, and inventory tracking. In your personal life, IoT can help streamline regular tasks and chores. All in all, IoT is here to stay, so getting familiar with its benefits and risks is important.
- To heighten your awareness of cybersecurity. The greatest risk with the IoT is that every IoT-enabled item potentially creates a gateway that hackers could exploit to steal data, hold your systems for ransom, or otherwise disrupt operations. The biggest exposure comes from businesses acquiring and implementing IoT-enabled assets “willy nilly”—with little thought to cybersecurity. It’s therefore critical to know, on an ongoing basis, precisely what’s connected to the Internet and how much of a threat it poses to your company or your personal life.
Balancing great potential and risk
The IoT holds both great potential and significant risk. Before you make an investment in smart tech for yourself or your company, it’s important to assess the costs and forecast the financial impact of anything you’re considering changing or adding to your system. The greatest risk isn’t squandering money on technology that goes unused or doesn’t provide the desired results; It’s moving forward without a honed plan and a solid understanding of how the IoT can impact you and your business.
If you want to know more about the IoT, or don’t know where to start, we can help. Reach out to your CJBS team member today to start the conversation.
Stay safe and healthy,
The CJBS Team