The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. Thanks to cheap processors and wireless networks, it’s possible to turn anything, from your light switch to your car, into part of the IoT. This adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate without a human being involved, and merging the digital and physical worlds.
A common question one might ask is what are some examples of IoT devices and how are they used? Many people think immediately of things like smart light switches, thermostats, door locks, or the overpriced refrigerator with the LCD on the front. These are all good examples, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. If the device can be controlled over the internet, it’s part of the IoT.
The devices we’ve discussed so far are what most people think of when the subject of IoT is brought up, which makes the idea of involving IoT in their business pointless. Why does my business care about internet controlled lights? How will opening my garage door from my phone affect my company’s bottom line?
In 2017, Amazon opened up a “Smart Store.” This store is loaded to the teeth with IoT devices. Everything from cameras, RFID sensors, barcode scanners, lights, wireless devices, you name it. It was the first store in the world that did not need a checkout line or a cashier. Essentially, they utilize the IoT setup to track who walks in the store, what items the customer picks up in the store, and if the customer walks out of the store with those items they automatically bill their credit card and email a receipt. They also use the IoT devices to collect data to arrange the store to make it more profitable and easier for the customers to find what they need. This is why IoT will be important; it ties in directly with automation and data businesses can use to improve.
Almost every business will interact with IoT gear in the next few years. From an IT point of view, these devices will need to be connected to the company network, configured to be monitored by your IT personnel, and properly secured. This could be a huge undertaking, but don’t worry, Sikich can help!