The Internet of Things and why you should care

| 25 November 2013

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They are calling it a new era in computing. We passed the PC age a couple of years ago, and mobility has taken the post-PC era into another realm.

The days of only PCs and servers speaking to each other over networks are over. The internet has been democratised.

Primarily driven by consumers and mobility, today we have more connected devices than ever before, and these devices are talking to each other, sharing a plethora of valuable data.

If we had to count all the devices connected to the internet at the moment, you are looking at around two billion connections that include computers, servers, and mobile devices.

The big buzz word over the next five years is going to be “The Internet of Things”. You’ve got to love the creativity in choice of words and phrases that the tech gurus use. In fact the term “Internet of Things” was coined by the British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton, who proposed the term back in 1999. He pioneered the RFID concept of tagging things so they could be managed by computers.

So what exactly is this “Internet of Things”, and why should we care?

Well it is a big deal and business should care about the impact that this will have in the next decade.

With the size of technology shrinking the way it has over the last three decades, communication devices, sensors, and chips have become so miniscule, that they can now be embedded into things, turning them into a valuable resource of real time information.

The Internet of Things is more than just an evolution of the internet. It is seen as a major transformation of the internet as we know it.

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We are already seeing the rise of this evolution in automotive industry. Insurance companies are putting telemetry systems to read your driving habits and your insurance premiums are determined by the way you drive.

It goes ever further than this. Through the digitisation of the Internet of Things, a new economy of business models is being created across many segments.

These connected “objects” will be embedded in almost everything we use in our daily lives.

Imagine if every appliance and electronic device in our homes had a sensor that spoke to the internet and shared information like electricity consumption. By being connected together, smart electricity grids would be able to prioritise energy usage in a far more efficient manner.

For manufacturing, being able to track materials and components in real time, will lead to significant efficiencies and cost reductions in many organisation.

The medical field is another market that will see huge benefits from the Internet of Things. They are designing slippers with sensors for example, which will be able to track the elderly and detect falls. Special clothing will keep track of our heart rates and blood pressure in real time.

Gartner is predicting that by 2020, over 30 billion devices will be connected to the internet and the Internet of Things will create $1,9 trillion of economic value add.

But all of this comes with its own challenges. Businesses will need to equip themselves with the correct analysis tools to manage this tsunami of data and make sense of it.

The internet is all of a sudden developing a central nervous system that will be able to provide valuable information and predict situations before they happen. The Internet of Things is coming at business faster than most people think, and those who aren’t prepared will not be as agile as they would like to be in a fast-changing technological world.

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