Is your business ready for the Internet of Things (IoT)?
In your everyday life you may already be a part of the IoT, e.g. thermostats, home alarms and entertainment centers joined together digitally and managed from a computer or mobile device. Businesses also can, and increasingly are, bringing together sensors and cloud-computing with office equipment, factory machinery and order fulfillment/inventory systems, streamlining sales and production processes wirelessly. This improves customer relations, productivity and on-time delivery.
There’s no time like the present to get involved. Knowledge@Wharton is an online business analysis journal of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In March its experts in collaboration with Dell posted an article to guide businesses through the ever-expanding digital landscape. Leveraging the Internet of Things for Competitive Advantage describes IoT as an «ecosystem» that «consists of data sensors, networks, cloud storage, applications and devices all working together to help companies and consumers manage their digital lives…»
How hot is the topic? What are the trends? International Data Corporation (IDC) is a premier global provider of market intelligence for IT professionals and business executives. Its infographic Connecting the IoT describes what is and forecasts what lies ahead through connectivity. A few insights from IDC:
- There are currently 13 billion connected things worldwide, expected to grow to 30 billion by 2020.
- By 2018 60% of IT solutions will become open-sourced allowing vertically-driven IoT markets to form.
- Millennials, representing 16% of population, will accelerate IoT adoption.
Now is the time to embrace IoT. Consider what devices you frequently use and what data you would like to leverage. Is there client information you want to capture and share with your sales team? What operational systems could be integrated and managed remotely?
Of course there is cost. eMarketer.com cites an Accenture study showing that Internet users worldwide (62%) have concerns that purchasing IoT devices and services would be too expensive. Many (47%) are concerned about privacy and security issues. Businesses might require a cloud-based platform to serve as a data center or eCommerce solution. They might need technical support to set up the network and train employees. Plus, what devices should each employee have: a tablet, a smartphone, a laptop?
When you’re ready to look at IoT capabilities for your business, seek the guidance of an IT expert. Though the upfront investment may seem steep, the savings gained from a connected workforce and improved customer relations quickly prove the value of IoT.