Most people have heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), yet few really know what it means and why it is so important. IoT technology connects devices to the internet to collect and share information. Just about anything from a pill bottle to a bus can be connected to the web, thanks to uber-cheap processors and the ubiquity of wireless networks. This technology has turned plain devices into smart ones that can communicate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Devices

Any product that can be connected to the web and subsequently controlled qualifies as an IoT device. For example, consider a light bulb that can be turned on or off with a smartphone app. Another example of an IoT device is a smart thermostat in the office. At least one, but oftentimes many, sensors can be placed into IoT devices to collect and transmit data. In fact, smart cities will soon have thousands of sensors strategically positioned throughout the urban space to improve our understanding of these spaces.

IoT devices are those that, historically, one would not have expected to be connected to the web. Many IoT devices don’t have screens or keyboards as our laptops and smartphones have. However, once connected, these IoT devices can communicate with the network without these traditional human interferences.

IoT is Building Momentum

IoT continues to gain steam. Spending on IoT has surpassed the $2 trillion mark. Spending on smart electric meters, security cameras, and other smart devices will only continue to increase in the years to come. Those who ignore this trend do so at their own peril. IoT is particularly important for maintaining a competitive advantage as businesses need as much data about their products and systems as possible. The addition of sensors to products is helpful as they can communicate data pertaining to the performance and typical usage of the product. This helps companies better understand their products and learn from their products in the field. The information from IoT sensors also is used to make systems and supply chains as efficient as possible.

How IoT Benefits Consumers

It is not only businesses that benefit from IoT. Consumers also stand to derive significant value from the technology. Internet-enabled devices throughout homes allow for easier user control from afar as well as the instantaneous sharing of information for improved performance and regular upgrades. Consumers stand to benefit from smart fridges, smart thermostats, intelligent cameras and beyond. Many consumers love the fact that IoT technology empowers them to remotely turn on their lights, heat, air conditioning, and other home devices/technology with ease.

The Issue of Privacy

IoT devices collect vast amounts of information, some of which might be personal. Though smart homes will certainly learn a lot about property owners, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that you, the owner, are in control of your IoT devices. Though, it is important for those who add IoT devices to their home and office to understand that they will be surrendering some privacy in exchange for the convenience or other value enabled by the device.

IoT is Coming Your Way

The question is not if IoT will expand – it is when IoT will be ubiquitous. IoT technology will soon transform homes, workplaces and other spaces. Businesses who take advantage of this breakthrough technology will have a meaningful competitive advantage and ultimately enjoy vastly improved efficiency across nearly every facet of work and life.