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What is IoT? An overview of the Internet of Things and its Value Proposition

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When I first heard the term Internet of Things (IoT) I was intrigued as to what it meant, and what exactly it encompassed. I had more than one person refer to it as ‘basically everything’ with somebody even using their Google Home as an example of the vast power and potential of IoT.

It was still hard to grasp the exact meaning, and I honestly ended up more perplexed, what exactly is the Internet of Things?

What is IoT?

The term IoT refers to the comprehensive, emerging paradigm enabling communication between devices and a network – free of any human intervention or management. These devices are not commonly associated with having an internet connection, though have been built with sensors that feed information back to computing systems via a network. These systems can monitor and manage the actions and health of the devices as well as the diverse world around them.

In whole, IoT is an innovation that puts together an extensive variety of smart systems, frameworks and intelligent devices and sensors … in order to facilitate our lives– Kumar et. al, 2019

Due to the considerable innovations in technology, connectivity in today’s society is (in my opinion) mind-boggling and incredible, whilst being equally as terrifying. This powerful integration facilitates the opportunity to turn virtually any physical object that can be connected to the internet into part of the IoT revolution. This can range from a lightbulb controlled by a smartphone app to your smartwatch (or any other object in your life that has the word ‘smart’ in front of it, for that matter).

So as its name conveys, it is literally the ‘Internet of Things’ – the term which Kevin Ashton coined in 1999.

The IoT integrates the interconnectedness of human culture – our ‘things’ – with the interconnectedness of our digital information system – the internet. That’s the IoT.– Ashton, 2020

The Value of IoT

IoT is underpinned with a framework that offers arguably endless value for multiple industries and domains, underpinned with the overarching aim to connect. Vast use cases range from healthcare and security to agriculture and traffic management. We begin to see the emergence of smart homes and even smart cities. The greatest adoption of IoT devices is within the industrial and automotive industries closely followed by consumers – with wearable devices becoming considerably more popular.

IoT provides individuals and businesses with increased efficiency, agility and optimisation – regardless of the specific use case. It enables the opportunity to collect a vast amount of data in real-time and store it in the cloud for easy access and analysis. Additionally, a further opportunity exists to build platforms to analyse this data and utilise the insights to implement necessary changes. These can be in the interests of reliability, retention, retention, redundancy, reliability, or user access policies.

Although value does not only lie within the data collection and storage, but also the digital representation of physical objects. The provision of this representation means the notion of continual improvement is vastly more attainable. Businesses can not only continually monitor their devices to measure their reliability and function, but measure their historical performance. This means potential issues are foreseen and rectified, and developments and advancements can be implemented specifically in areas recognised through the provision of IoT technology.

IoT will drive not only greater competition as technology expands, but also drive new business models. Infrastructure will take on new meaning as businesses can transform their traditional products into “as-a-service” offerings – with the ability to utilise physical device’s IoT capability to monitor usage and inform the design of new models. This is becoming an increasingly popular business proposition within the industrial equipment space, with the increased possibility to leverage current assets for lower principle output of cost and higher profit.

Key Considerations of IoT

Considering implementing an IoT solution? It pays to be informed.

Here are some key principles that should be taken into consideration when designing and deploying IoT within your business:

    • Connectivity: Due to the higher availability of networks, the cost continues to lower meaning more affordable products offering IoT are available. Though it is important to not only consider the cost to run but also the connectivity of the device in question. There is a range of wireless communication methods which make up the ‘network’ aspect of IoT, without having to rely on traditional enterprise networks. These include sensors, Bluetooth, WiFi and Cellular – which all offer varying levels of power, distance and scale. Consider which option aligns best with your offering to leverage maximum benefits
    • Data Privacy: Collected data should be available only for authorised users who can access it from anywhere in the world via secure internet-based applications. Further to this, for consumers, ensuring the capability of smart devices in data capture and sharing is paramount. Some businesses design their ‘smart’ products around the notion of harvesting and selling the data – so awareness is key here.
    • Data Analytics & Storage: Following the collection of metadata, in the form of temperature, voice notes and videos to name a few, it needs to be managed and leveraged correctly. For analysis, businesses opt for databases like MongoDB to bring structure to the array of the provided content. This promotes a whole new level of understanding, intelligence, and order in a traditionally unstructured environment. As for storage, the major cloud providers including Google, AWS & Microsoft all have options for cloud processing.
    • Cybersecurity: Security is one of the primary risks associated with IoT due to its nature. It’s crucial to ensure any sensitive data that’s captured is password-protected or encrypted in transit to minimise any opportunity for hacking. Businesses need to ensure that these networks are isolated and equipped with data encryption as maintaining the security of sensors, gateways and other components is a necessity.

Driving Innovation with IoT

As IoT accelerates our ability to drive innovation throughout multiple industries, the infrastructure to support and propel your business to success needs to be solid. AWS excels with their IoT offering, laying the foundations through offering broad, deep services designed to promote security, scalability and integration. 

To strengthen Experience Digital’s extensive capability in IoT, our team were chosen to take part in an invitation-only Spring Camp program. These online enablement sessions assisted our team to build their capability within the IoT space. Over the course of three months, our teams gained further insight and guidance into quality assurance, business strategy, trends and insights. This acted as a gateway to equip ourselves with key information to better assist our customers to implement the most optimised IoT solutions. 

Furthermore, in September Experience Digital will undertake our AWS IoT Competency to reinforce and validate our IoT capability. This will involve demonstrating our technical expertise and proven customer success and allow us further opportunities to connect with customers.

Conclusion

All in all, albeit IoT being around for over a decade, the continuous advancements in technology serve the ability to create unimagined possibilities and understand the world remotely. As the world continues to evolve, IoT will serve to adapt to the requirements of consumers and businesses and with no doubt make connection easier and business operations further optimised.

Interested in implementing your own solution? Check out our range of broad IoT services here.

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