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Just as the PC has become a staple of everyday life, so too has the internet. For those old enough to remember, the PC used to be relegated to the techy crowd, so the internet was the domain of the scientist.
But as the PC gained popularity and the price grew within the reach of ordinary people, so the internet changed as well. Once the realm of academics, the internet is now nearly indispensable to everyday people.
Social media has become an integral part of business strategy. As per Social Media Daily, “Businesses are able to spread their presence through channels such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Soundcloud and Google Plus.” One can hardly remember what life was like without it, and there are generations that never lived without it. It has become ingrained in our lives, it has replaced ordinary things like going to movies, reading books and balancing our checkbooks.
The internet has made so much in life easier, cheaper and accessible that it is now a collection of things that can e done on the internet. The Internet of Things (IoT) has even changed the way business is done and is about to change it even more.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The internet has changed so much it can’t be quantified in a single word or even on a few levels. It changed education, business, telecommunications, correspondence, and interpersonal relationships. You can now have a virtual phone system that doesn’t require wires and cables. Businesses are saving a bundle on moving their phone systems from the old PBX model to a virtual model that allows you to carry your phone number with you whether you’re using a phone, a tablet or even a landline. PBX providers like Switch have advantages over a land based phone system for its greater flexibility and low cost.
But the IoT doesn’t stop at phone systems, it is letting your refrigerator order your food, it lets your phone control your lights, your locks and a myriad of other things that you own. Between hardware and software, the IoT is projected to become the largest device market in the world. It will surpass mobile phones, tablets and cars. Between hardware, software, installation and management services, the IoT is expected to add US$1.7-trillion into the global economy.
Included in this projected economic value is the realization of costs savings from the use of these devices. For entrepreneurs this opens a host of markets that will be available to them in the future. And for the average Joe it will mean efficiencies in the home and the workplace that should afford them the opportunity to enjoy more free time.
For businesses the future is filled with potential. Intelligent systems will leave the guesswork and the potential for human error behind. After all machines simply do what they are told. They don’t deign to make executive decisions that have dire consequences, they simply do what they are programmed to do. Already point-of-sale scanners are connected by the internet to the warehouse system and it updates the inventory system in real time. This is the ultimate in efficiency for any business that depends on accurate stock counts. These smart machines may just be able to order more stock for you when it “sees” that it’s needed. Your refrigerator can order your groceries now, it isn’t really a giant leap to believe the warehouse system can trigger an order.
Robots in factories send maintenance information to those who need to know and in so doing can prevent downtime that can be catastrophic for a production line. In the future as the costs come down, even small businesses will be able to take advantage of these types of technological advances. But there has to be a downside doesn’t there?
Of course, there is a downside, nothing is perfect. As people and businesses move more towards controlling everything via the internet, concerns about privacy and security will become greater. As you control more things using the internet, you will naturally have more and more data released to the internet as well. You can’t have your phone control your house if it doesn’t know where it is. Your IP address will replace your physical address as the place where you will be robbed. Cybersecurity will be crucial if the IoT is to take off as expected.
Businesses already collect a lot of data and no one is really sure just how much. As you use the internet to start your car or even drive it, more data will be collected under the guise of making a better product. Actually, no matter what you turn over to the internet, data will have to be available to the underlying process or the process won’t be able to work. From phones to fridges cybersecurity will become probably the biggest beneficiary of the IoT because without it, no one will want the things that are offered.