May 23, 2018

IoT: Understanding the technological trend, and utilising it in the workplace

By Shiraaz Singh, Solutions Specialist – Networking

It may surprise you, but the Internet of Things, or IoT, as it’s more commonly referred to, has been around for a number of years already. Remember, we’ve had the likes of CCTV cameras and biometric access control systems for quite a while, so the technological trend isn’t exactly new – it has just evolved, and now has an official name.

What exactly is IoT though? Defining it remains a tricky prospect, and largely depends on the context and who is trying to explain the term. Shiraaz Singh, Networking Solution Specialist for Aptronics says, “For me, IoT refers to non-IT hardware that connects to the Internet or local network for a myriad of reasons, like simple accessibility, or data gathering for more complex analytical purposes.”

IoT innovation is being driven by specific use cases. For example, what problem needs to be solved? What solution is needed? Or what previously uncharted avenues can now be explored? In the consumer space, we’ve already seen a surge in popularity in terms of wearable technology. Health and fitness, for instance, has become a focus for many people, as they now have the means to monitor their internal metrics, track their progress, and more.

Homes are becoming “smarter” too, allowing individuals to turn on the air conditioner and switch off the oven, just to name a few actions, from anywhere in the world. In fact, IoT is growing at such a rate that Statista predicts that by 2025 there will be a massive 75.44 billion connected devices. That’s more than triple the 23.14 billion expected this year.

How can organisations take advantage of IoT?

IoT is already shaking up how organisations operate. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and businesses are using a number of devices to harness and manage their data. Here are some examples:

  • Retail: Knowing a customer’s buying patterns can help retailers make better decisions. They can stock their various stores based on demand, for instance, and juggle their staff accordingly during the busiest and quietest times.
  • Security: Analytics can greatly assist with fraud detection and even crime prevention. Analysing behaviour and routines, and then alerting an appropriate party when there is any deviation from those patterns, can prove to be valuable in quickly identifying irregular activity.
  • Manufacturing and Production: IoT devices, such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and sensors, can provide helpful information about a multitude of things. For example, suppliers with remote access to this data can quickly provide valuable feedback to manufacturers about the likes of capacity planning, failure prediction, and how best to optimise production.

 Whatever industry you operate in today, chances are there is some or other way you can take advantage of IoT to boost everything from efficiency to productivity. It’s simply a matter of deciding what challenge you want tackle, and what technology or method you’re going to use to overcome it. IoT opens numerous doors, so you’ll really just need to decide which tools best suit the situation at hand.

What about security?

With more devices connected to the online realm, and mobile workforces becoming commonplace, it’s only natural that organisations worry about their security. Cyberattacks are increasingly on the rise, too, so what can be done to keep sensitive data safe?

Businesses embracing IoT need to ensure they’re fully aware of the new threat landscape it brings with it, and bear in mind that their current IT security platform may not be able to secure all their new devices. Adopting new infrastructure and securing the endpoint should be a top priority.

Be prepared for future innovations

In its current state, IoT, believe it or not, is still in its infancy. The introduction of 5G networks – looming now on the horizon – will shake things up drastically. Having gigabit speeds on mobile devices will open up a whole world of new possibilities in various sectors. The biggest benefactors will, of course, be IoT, and those environments that need or want better shared computing services too.

With further innovations forthcoming, organisations that don’t adopt and implement IoT into their very fabric risk being left behind. Make sure your company isn’t one of them. Take the time to figure out how the technological trend can be used to better your business today. And if you struggle in that regard, be sure to contact your preferred IT solutions provider.

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