IoT has been in use in organizational settings a lot longer than is commonly thought. Way back in the early 1980’s the programmers of Carnegie Mellon University had an efficiency problem that was keeping them up at night.
What was their big problem?
The Coke machine in the staff break room regularly ran out of sodas, and they didn’t know whether it was worth their effort or time to walk down to the break room, plug their coins into the machine, only to be disappointed that their selection of beverage was unavailable.
What was their solution?
The very first network connected appliance.
They rigged the Coke machine to talk to their computers through the university’s local network. With these changes in place, they could check on the availability status of their favorite soda without leaving their workstations.
And so, the first IOT appliance was born…
What is IoT?
IoT stands for “Internet of Things.” To put it simply, IOT is the galaxy of “things” that are connected directly to the internet through a physical network or WiFi or indirectly through Bluetooth.
The ecosystem of IoT devices within a business helps a business operate more efficiently and understand how the business functions at a more granular level.
Where Did IOT Come From?
In 1999 the co-founder of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, Kevin Ashton, made a presentation at Procter and Gamble. In that speech, he coined the term “Internet of Things.” Since that time other people have used the terms “Machine to Machine,” “Internet of Everything,” “Web 3.0,” “Industrial Internet,” and others to describe the concept – but “Internet of Things” seems to be here to stay.
What Are the “Things” in the Internet of Things?
If it connects to the internet, or if it connects to something that connects to the internet it is considered to be one of the “things” in the Internet of Things. The “things” can include:
- Mechanical Machines – Think, “sensors on a car” or “e-controls on an oil-fired furnace.”
- Digital Machines – Any smartphone, smartwatch, a wearable device, gaming console, tablet.
- People – Think, “heart monitor” or “health bracelet”.
- Animals – Farmers use unique electronic identifiers to provide the exact amount of feed, water, and care an animal will need throughout its lifespan on the farm.
Each of these is given a unique identifier. That unique identifier allows that device to act on, send, or collect data across a network and in turn, across the internet.
Why Does IOT Matter for Business Owners?
Remember our example of the first network connected appliance? The programmers at Carnegie Mellon University wanted to get information quickly, save time, and save energy. Sure, it was all over something as trivial as a can of soda, but still…they got their information, saved time, and didn’t have to exert the energy to walk down to the staff break room.
The benefits of IOT have not changed since those early days.
Business leaders embrace IOT today to leverage quick access to information, analytics, efficiency, and savings of time and money.
Are There More Benefits That IOT Brings to The Table for Businesses?
Most people are quick to see the benefits of having a “smart home.” Environmental controls, security controls, automatic online shopping for regular-use items, automation for appliances – it all makes sense. Although most of us don’t have that level of internet-connected devices in our homes, we can see the appeal and understand the benefits.
The benefits of IOT for business are not that dissimilar from those of a smart home.
- Operate more efficiently
- Acquire, access, accumulate, display, and utilize analytics
- Utilize analytics to make better-informed executive decisions
- Monitor business processes
- Adapt or integrate business models
- Improve customer experience and employee work experience
- Enhance staff productivity
- Save money through automation and informed decision making
- Discover new ways to do business better
- Find out more about your client, product, and market
Are There Any Downsides to IOT Use In Business?
To answer this question, we first have to dispel a myth.
What’s the myth?
The myth is, “My company is not into IoT.”
While it may be true that you are not paying attention to IOT or are not heavily investing in IoT, the fact is that every modern company is “into IOT.” They just may not realize it.
Think about how many things in your company are connected to either the internet or are connected to something that is connected to the internet. If you start adding them up, it might surprise you how many there really are.
Now, let’s answer the question…
Is there a downside to using IoT for business?
Sure there is.
It’s called cybersecurity – or cyber-insecurity as the case may be.
Each of those internet-connected gadgets or devices represent a point of access for a hacker that is intent on gaining unauthorized access to your systems and/or doing harm.
All of these interconnected “things” of the Internet of Things represent what cybersecurity experts refer to as an “expanded attack surface.” What does that mean? It means that there are more ways that the bad guys can gain access to our businesses than ever before.
But here’s the catch.
We can’t go back to the old way of doing things.
Because our competitors are not going to turn back and our profitability would suffer if we did.
What Does a Business Leader Do If He/She Wants to Have the Benefits of IoT but Wants to Mitigate the Risk?
Because of the complexity that IoT brings to the management, maintenance, and IT security of a business, it’s no longer feasible for most companies to do their own in-house IT support. As a result, an entire industry has been built up continuous, all-inclusive IT support on a monthly subscription basis. This outsourced IT support model is known as Managed IT Services. A Managed IT Services provider, such as LA Networks, enables companies to take advantage of IoT benefits while minimizing their risk exposure