Much of the buzz surrounding the expanding network of connected devices known as the Internet of Things focuses on individual uses. For most of us, the extent to which the IoT is tangibly useful is in the application of wearables to track fitness and health habits, or the installation of “smart home” devices to improve comfort and energy efficiency. Through these things, we can buy and intentionally put to use instruments of the IoT designed to simplify and improve our lives.
But the truth about the IoT is that its biggest impact in the near future might exist on a larger scale, based in business rather than in the lives and homes of individuals. To support this claim, here’s a look ahead at some of the IoT-related innovations that are set to expand in 2016.
In the broadest sense, an article in Forbes suggested that the IoT represents a fundamental shift in the lens through which we view the world, and that this is giving businesses the opportunity to think in bigger and newer ways. The example provided is John Deere, a company known for selling tractors and other farming equipment. But in the last few years, it has made an effort to incorporate data into its products. Its equipment can now assist farmers with knowing when and where to plant which crops, how and where to plow, etc. This results in the automating of the farming process through a human tool. The machines aren’t taking the human element out of things completely, but they’re effectively laying down a track of optimal efficiency on which a human can complete a job. This is a single example, but it speaks to the article’s point that companies can now think in big and unexpected ways. We may see similar innovations in the coming year or two.
For a more specific point, it’s also likely that the IoT will play an increasingly larger role in the shipping aspect of major businesses. Touching on this subject, a blog post at Networkfleet explains just how the IoT can help to improve the ways in which company fleets are managed. GPS tracking systems, vehicle diagnostic monitors, and even systems for automatic roadside assistance are already used to make drivers safer, quicker, and more reliable. In a given ride from one destination to another, the IoT may not have much effect. But when you consider these ideas in the context of industries full of massive companies with huge shipping divisions, the potential for improved efficiency is significant. Additionally, the implications here go beyond merely getting there faster or keeping drivers safer. With quicker and more reliable shipping, a company can lower its own costs and pass those savings onto its customers.
We’ve covered the potential impacts on business on a large scale. However, there are many ways in which the IoT can change businesses in a way that can impact individual employees, specifically by altering workspaces. A list in TechRadar about the IoT in 2016 looked at a few details in this regard, with the most interesting one being the idea of an office becoming a “major connected ecosystem.” The idea is that people within an office can be tracked, making it easy to know where co-workers are when you need them. This can facilitate quick and easy face-to-face contact. Additionally, sensors can automatically alert employees to traffic and parking patterns to help them get to work safe and on time. Basically, office spaces can gradually evolve into smarter, hassle-free environments.
Ultimately, these are still only a few of the ways in which the IoT stands to alter and improve places of business. We may also see small businesses tapping into new potential for easy expansion thanks to various IoT concepts. We’ll see digital security becoming a bigger concern as people begin to worry about how IoT device might be manipulated. We may even see the personal health tracking aspect of the IoT applied to offices concerned with supporting the fitness of their employees. A lot of changes are on the way, and with this whole concept still evolving somewhat unpredictably, there will probably be some surprises, too.