Last updated on December 18th, 2014 at 12:24 pm
We all keep hearing the same refrain: the Internet of Things (IoT) is coming—or in some cases, it’s already here. At least that’s according to the New York Times, they reported General Electric (GE) opened up their big data platform to help facilitate more growth within the IoT industry. But what exactly does that all mean for everybody else?
What exactly is the Internet of Things?
To put it simply, IoT refers to the smart devices popping up in our everyday lives. This can include smart watches, refrigerators, cars, thermostat systems, and even washers and dryers. What makes these items “smart” is that they’re connected to the Internet and can provide robust data to both the consumer and business selling the product.
All of that data being created is typically referred as “big data” because there could be millions or even billions of data in an IoT database being archived, sent, or received. Data can include fitness reports (how many miles walked, for example) from a smart wearable or monthly mileage from a smart car.
Such data can be tapped to find better efficiencies with certain processes, to figure out new behaviors in customers, and other revolutionary information that a company can save millions on or even profit from. It all depends on the type of data and smart device.
However, the IoT movement is still very much new and only a handful of devices in our everyday lives are truly connected. Eventually, almost everything will be collecting data, become even more efficient, and be connected to the Internet in some capacity. For the time being, and as TechCrunch puts it, the Internet of Things is more of a walled garden because the controls within these devices aren’t connected to one another and use their own software, just like Apple and Android use their own OS for their smart devices.
But there is more to the industry than just smart wearables and inter-connected devices. In fact, IoT is changing the entire flow of business.
A Different Internet of Things Movement
When the Internet of Things finally does go mainstream, most people will be focused on the consumer level smart devices that will be producing all this big data, but the Internet of Things can have larger implications. It’s already in motion. It’s called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and it will completely change the way companies operate.
All businesses can benefit from the Industrial Internet of Things because it means using internal data to figure out better and more efficient operations. This can include efficient payroll, logistics, talent acquisition, and even bigger concepts such as helping agricultural or energy companies streamline their processes to help more people and reach more consumers. The convergence of people, big data, and intelligent machines, according to consulting firm Accenture, will have a huge impact and businesses need to be able to start preparing for this change right now.
In a report by Accenture, there will be three major areas businesses benefitting from the IIoT:
- Boosting your revenue by effectively increasing production, such as creating new and even “hybrid” businesses opportunities and models
- Digging deeper with highly intelligent machines and technologies to further innovative ideas and concepts that can be turned into reality.
- And probably most of all, companies will be able to completely reshape their workforce to make it highly efficient.
A handful of companies are already utilizing the power of the Industrial Internet of Things to better their operations. For example, companies with truck fleets can use big data analytics to educate their truck drivers on saving fuel, which in turn saves the company money. Or a car rental company can streamline their rental services so customers can drive off with their rental vehicle faster and tweak their process in real time because of the data they can collect.
How IIoT & IoT Relate To Each Another
Do these two trends even work together or separately? There are a few ways to better understand the relationship.
The two are related in that both of them are about connecting users as well as collecting important data. Smart devices can be found in both camps because they are integral to the entire purpose of the IoT industry. Without data or connectivity, there’s no chance for better business opportunities.
With that said, the smart devices found in the Internet of Things are going to differ from the Industrial Internet of Things along with their main function and goal. A smart watch is going to be on the IoT side because it is more consumer-based compared to a smart computer that only handles the payroll for an entire company.
Finally, both are important to the future of technology and business solutions as a whole. The opportunity to add more innovations to the product mix are already there, all businesses need to do is seize this newly developing technology to see the difference in operations management and workforce flow. Why not become thought leaders and innovators in the Industrial Internet of Things?
Photo via McRock Capital