April 25, 2017
IoT or “Internet of Things” refers to a network of objects or devices, that contain embedded technology, which enables them to communicate and interact with each other. This connectivity between physical devices can happen anywhere – in your home or the office – and can include appliances, smoke alarms, light fixtures and practically any device you may have, that is connected to the web or another device in some way. These devices also include smart gadgets, which can be accessed and controlled from a remote location. This benefits users from a wide range of industries.
IoT is become increasingly popular because of its ease of use and the convenience it can offer. This means that there is a subsequent demand in apps for such devices and includes monitoring systems for both SMBs and enterprises, navigation, computing, and so much more.
Back in 2011, Google introduced Nest, a smart thermostat that you can control through your smartphone. After the much-anticipated Apple Watch was released, interest in high tech watches only seemed to broaden further. This encouraged companies such as Lively to produce a safety-oriented watch for the aging population as a part of a home monitoring kit which included a wireless hub and sensors on various items in the home, allow you to monitor an aging person’s activity. Not only does the watch monitor all vital signs but it also records them to your phone so it can be analyzed further.
IoT is fostering a new scale of innovation with the ability to take any device, gadget or contraption you have at home or in office that runs on electricity, to be controlled by existing technology. IoT is emerging at a fast pace and has already begun to impact various areas of our lives and the way we work. There are various practical applications of IoT across various industries. Let us take a look at some of them:
There are various industries taking advantage of IoT – these include healthcare, energy, agriculture, and soon. We are seeing it become prominent in daily lives with the introduction of connected cars, smart cities, smart retail and with the proliferation of wearables. All of these are areas that we expect to see drastic growth in over the next few years.
It’s easy to see why IoT is suddenly getting so much attention. It makes things incredibly easy and it works! With the fast growing trend of connecting all sorts of physical devices to the internet and using a smartphone to control and monitor these devices, IoT has entered the market at just the right time – an age where simplification and ease of use rules business decisions.
IoT offers genuine benefits:
The IoT is all set to bring about a brand new movement of app development, specifically IoT apps. These apps combine several components – connected devices, sensors, networking, cloud, and analytics. These components offer a myriad combinations and permutations which further allow you to create brand new applications, each serving a unique purpose.
The only issue, as you would expect, is the complexity. Apple and Google have both launched their own toolkits, HomeKit and Brillo respectively in order to help developers approach IT with relative confidence.
For several years, organizations struggled with adopting cloud as fast as one would expect because of security concerns. Of course, cloud vendors have been able to circumvent around some of these concerns and organizations worried about security were quick to opt for a hybrid approach to still be able to take advantage of the cloud.
Unfortunately, the extreme level of “interconnectedness” that IoT offers causes similar concerns about privacy and security. When all your devices and gadgets are connected over a network and are able to be controlled through the use of a smartphone, this also opens up possibilities of easy hacking. And hacking can happen from any source from governments, corporation or hackers wanting to spy on you. There could be a large amount of sensitive data that can potentially be at risk. And even if it is not sensitive data, it still may be data that you are not comfortable sharing with anyone.
There are ongoing battles across governments from various countries about how far is too far when it comes to obtaining information about their citizens through these indirect means. However, till then, where the security and privacy issue is headed is still a little unclear.
But for now, consumers are definitely onboard the concept of interconnectedness and keen to see how it can be leveraged to make lives easier.
Enterprises, however, are still skeptical, and for good reason. But they also want to explore what IoT can do for them simply because of the promise it holds.
Several businesses are already running multiple devices online, but are careful to add an extra layer of security and maximize efficiency and response time. Security is a key discussion point in the development of enterprise applications. In fact, IoT can help improve defense barriers by enforcing physical devices to become the first point of entry.
Enterprises stand to gain various benefits from IoT. Companies that are looking to connect all of their electronic gadgets and devices within the business environment, can simplify work processes for their employees. This greatly enhances overall employee productivity.
Enterprises and large organizations that have already built robust mobile ecosystems are now exploring ways to support wearable technology as well. App developers are quickly following suit and building software to support such devices.
The biggest challenge for enterprises, as we discussed earlier is ensuring safety and privacy of its employees, its data, and its own network. As the number of devices increases rapidly, enterprises are working hard to determine how they can provide their employees with a smooth, logical and personalized experience across the entire spectrum of devices and operating systems. As enterprises add more devices to their business system – both mobile and otherwise – it becomes even more crucial to keep their technology updated.
Each OEM requires app developers and manufacturers to conform to certain license agreement terms. Enterprises must ensure that they are aware and adhere to these terms.
How are you planning to connect the devices over the internet? Are you going to use WiFi? Bluetooth? A traditional mobile network? Also, consider what types of mobile devices as well as mobile networks you are planning to support. Finally, work out a strategy for assigning permissions. C-level executives and the management team should be given certain privileges that are not allowed to others.
Consider the compatibility of the hardware at your enterprise. Larger organizations can afford to add new hardware capabilities, but the process can be complicated and rather pricey. For SMBs and smaller businesses, this upgrade may not be as easy. This is something to keep in mind when considering leveraging IoT.
App developers must have various programming protocols in place while developing apps for the mobile devices they wish to connect. The External Accessory framework enables communication with external hardware connected to an iOS-based device through either the Apple Lightning or 30-pin connector, or wirelessly using Bluetooth. This framework also supports developers in figuring out which types of apps different IoT devices can access via its connected mobile devices.
The age old debate of going for an off-the-shelf platform or building custom apps from scratch comes into play. The argument is fairly standard as well. Building customized apps obviously require a tremendous amount of time and effort. Using ready-made platforms, on the other hand, cut time, effort, and expense. It offers built-in functionalities that will help you create apps, integrate analytics, automate the storage and archiving of incoming data, real-time messaging, and so on. Enterprises will have to consider their budget and timelines while deciding which route to go.
IoT is rapidly changing the world as we know it. Smartphones have created a lasting revolution in their own right. Now imagine the exponential power of smartphones and various other smart devices and gadgets, spawned through this interconnectedness. It is no longer just an option to consider the impact of IoT on your enterprise. It has become absolutely essential to find out where IoT will fit into your business, no matter what size.
We’d love to know, what transformative impact have you seen from IoT in a business environment?