A recent article has pegged the value of the internet of things (IofT) as a $300 billion industry. When you think of all the items you can now connect to your home network:
web cams, security systems, garage door openers, thermostats, lighting, whole home automation systems, refrigerators and other appliances, TVs, as well as the ones commonly thought of like smart phones and computers, you can begin to understand how pervasive this technology category is becoming.
When you make a purchase in your local retail department store the items you purchase have been tracked from the manufacturer, through distribution, the cash desk and finally by the security system as you leave the store using embedded RFID technology.
When people swipe an ID card to enter their offices, ride to specific floors on an elevator, or access specific areas of a building they are using the technology.
The ability to track information through internet enabled systems is now taken for granted in many ways. The next time you go for medical tests, the chances are very good you will be given the ability to go on line to review the test results in a secure web portal using a pass code provided at the lab. Of course your blood samples etc. will have been tracked using bar coded systems which keep your information securely hidden from most people in the process until the final results are provided to the physician and perhaps yourself.
For those who monitor the automotive world, the news over the past few days has been about the astounding number of pre registrations that Tesla has been able to get for its future release of the Model 3 electric car. Some commentators feel that one of the key attractions of the Tesla is the continuous upgrades which their current cars have received following their sale and shipment. The connection to the internet that permits the software on their vehicles to be regularly upgraded, offering new features and enhancements, has become part of their competitive advantage. Few other automakers have attempted to do this, although it is a potential which will be most likely to come.
From a business perspective the IofT wave is having a significant impact on the competitiveness of many companies as the leaders in many industries move ahead of others by building into their products and services a connected upgrade path. It also has led to cost savings and better feedback loops which can lead to improved products thereby creating better customer loyalty.
Mining the information that can be obtained using these new tools can become a challenge for any business and a whole field of practice is developing around figuring out the best ways to make good decisions out of the massive amounts of feedback data obtained. Those who are most successful in doing this will have a further competitive advantage.
In office technologies there are similar trends with devices becoming heavily software driven and with upgrades to firmware and software being a normal part of the maintenance cycle of devices. For many purchasers the bundle of software which is available for leveraging features of the hardware device can be as important (or sometimes more so) as the basic hardware involved.
Procedural impacts of changes in the technology can obsolete whole categories of device as fax did to teletype and scanning is now doing to fax.
Next time you look at a new tech device think further about what its impact might be as the ability for it to connect changes what you might do with it.
IofT is here and here to stay. Watch how much it changes the way we do things in the months and years ahead.