TechTalkTuesday – IoT

It's #TechTalkTuesday – where tech terms are defined, explained, and no longer a mystery.

Today we're talking about a phrase we hear often. Internet of things (IoT). Do you know what it means? Let's break it down.

The internet of things (IoT) refers to a global system made up of interrelated devices (things) connected to the internet, sharing data. These internet-connected devices can collect and transfer data using a wireless network without the need for human intervention.

Just what qualifies as a thing? It can be a solar panel, smart home devices, a connected car with alert sensors, medical devices like a heart monitor implant or a blood glucose monitor, manufacturing equipment, livestock biochip transponders, and so much more. In addition, any device that can be assigned an IP address and can transfer data across a network can be considered a thing.

How does it work?

An IoT ecosystem comprises internet-connected smart devices that collect, send, and even take action based on data they pull from their environment. This happens with embedded systems that include sensors, communication hardware, and processors.

Each IoT device will share the sensor data it collects by connecting to what is known as an IoT gateway. The devices can communicate with similar devices, and they can analyze and act on the info they can get from one another.

Humans can set up the devices, provide instructions, and access the data. However, the devices typically do most of the heavy lifting without human intervention. IoT can also bring artificial intelligence and machine learning on board to help make the processes for data collection more accessible and more dynamic.

The importance of IoT

IoT can help people work and live smarter. It can enable people to control certain aspects of their lives, as is the case with smart devices that allow automated homes. IoT is important to businesses as it can offer a real-time snapshot of how their systems are working. It can deliver insights into every aspect of the business, from machine performance to logistics and supply chain operations.

With IoT, companies can also reduce labor costs and automate labor-intensive processes.

IoT already has a solid place in our daily lives and will continue to be implemented as more organizations realize connected devices' true potential and value. It will also help give them a competitive edge.

IoT is implemented heavily in transportation, manufacturing, and utility organizations that use sensors and other types of IoT devices. That said, there are also use cases in agriculture, home automation, and infrastructure.

An interesting point to note is that there are currently more connected devices than people in the world. Therefore, the IoT has the potential to completely transform the way that businesses and humans interact with the rest of our increasingly connected world.

The potential advantages of IoT

There are several potential advantages of IoT to consider, including the following.

  • The ability to use any device to access valid information, from anywhere, at any time.
  • Superior communication between the connected devices.
  • Task automation to boost business service quality and reduce the need for human intervention.
  • Improved employee productivity.
  • Improved operations management efficiency and cost-effective operations.
  • Better use of business assets and resources.
  • Better opportunities for growing the business.
  • Improved customer care service and customer retention.

Potential concerns with IoT

As is the case with many areas of technology, IoT is not without its issues. Some of these potential areas of concern could include the following.

  1. Associated costs of implementation and maintenance
  2. Security concerns and flaws
  3. Dependence on a power supply
  4. Dependence on a network

Moreover, as many new players enter the field, standards still are being set. Even with the potential for challenges, the IoT brings with it incredible promise.

As even newer technologies and connectivity strategies hit the market, IoT innovation will continue, further transforming unconnected objects into smart connected devices. This ongoing trend has the potential to have a positive impact across industries, as well as in our personal lives.

An increase in connected devices means an increase in the information that is being shared between devices. Unfortunately, this also comes with an increased potential for a hacker to get access to confidential information. In addition, the IoT connects billions of devices with billions of data points. Each of these data points needs to be secured. Due to this comprehensive attack service, IoT privacy and security have the potential to be significant concerns.

Organizations face the potential of needing to manage massive numbers of IoT devices. Collecting and managing the data from each of the devices can potentially prove to be a logistical challenge. In addition, if there is a security flaw or a bug in the system, every one of the connected devices in that system may be corrupted.

All a hacker needs to do is exploit a single vulnerability, and he can then access and manipulate all of the data. Likewise, if a manufacturer neglects to perform routine device updates, they are vulnerable to cybercriminal attacks.

Many connected devices ask that users include personal info, including their phone numbers, names, ages, and even access to their social media accounts. Unfortunately, all of this data is valuable to fraudsters. However, hackers are not the only threat to IoT. Privacy could become another area of concern for users. For example, some of the companies that sell IoT devices for direct consumer use could sneak in fine print that allows them to collect and also sell user data.

There is so much more that we can learn about the potential and value of IoT. We hope that we've helped you form a solid base of understanding of IoT and how it may already be helping you in your day-to-day life. Do you see a potential use for more connectivity?