The Internet of Things: Your guide to the future of business

IoT_EmailAs we head into an increasingly connected world, it’s important to understand the benefits and risks associated with emerging technologies. If you haven’t already heard about the internet of things (IoT) and what it could mean for your business, we’ve got the key information for you here.

What is the IoT?
The IoT is the future of technology. In fact, it’s already here. If you’ve ever worn a fitness tracker or smart wristwatch, then you’re already using it. The term refers to any piece of smart technology that is connected to the internet. This allows devices to be controlled remotely, as well as giving them the ability to collect and send data over the network. In fact, the IoT is nothing new. The first smart toaster was unveiled in 1989, and one of the earliest examples of an IoT object is a cash machine.

But now the Internet of Things is growing rapidly. For the majority, it’s not just our computers that are connected to the World Wide Web – it’s our phones, watches, tablets, e-readers, televisions, radios and even our cars. Newly available smart technology allows us to interact with our household appliances in more efficient ways. We can turn on our central heating from our phones when we’re on the way home. Smart fridges can send us an alert when we run out of milk. Cameras in smart ovens can allow us to monitor the progress of our baking from another room. The possibilities are endless.

What are the benefits?
Embracing the IoT has numerous advantages for a business of any size, in any sector. IoT thermostats, lights and air conditioning systems can help control energy efficiency and bring down the costs of running an office. IoT security cameras can be accessed and controlled remotely, sending alerts over the internet when motion detectors are activated and ensuring that your premises are secure at all times. The internet of things will even improve the way in which you keep track of your stock and staff.

In the retail sector, smart labels are negating the need to scan goods at the checkout, while portable card readers can easily be connected to smartphones to create a mobile payment solution.

The internet of things also allows for more efficient data-gathering from multiple sources, which can help businesses to understand their customers’ habits with more accuracy, and allow your IT support company, for example, to monitor conditions in your server room remotely.

What are the risks?
As we move forward into this new and exciting era of technology, the most important risk factor to bear in mind is cybersecurity. The fact is, every device connected to the internet as part of your local network is essentially another port – another entry point for hackers and malware – and the more of these entry points you have, the greater the risk of a cyberattack becomes. You need to ensure that the smart devices you’re using have been adequately secured against intrusion, because the last thing you want is somebody gaining access to your sensitive data by hacking in through a lightbulb. We’re venturing into new territory here, and we need to tread carefully, with many sceptics sighting bigger risks such as hackers accessing your security system via the internet, or perhaps one day even hi-jacking your car.

If you have any questions or concerns about the internet of things and the potential for using smart technology in your business, get in touch with us. We can advise and we’re happy to help!