Perhaps you’ve heard about “the Internet of Things” (IoT) and wondered what it is. Or, maybe, you have some experience with the technology but aren’t sure how it could impact your business. No matter your level of knowledge about this technology, it’s a good time to learn more. The Internet of Things (IoT) is all around us and still expanding. It’s creeping into every facet of modern life to help us in countless ways. And, it’s probably already at work in your company, whether you know it or not.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that refers to the web of various Internet-connected technologies. Specifically, it refers to the interconnectedness of everyday objects, allowing objects to transmit data between one another and servers. This includes things like smart cars, which are able to download maps or collect GPS data on their own. But it also includes smart homes, and even medical devices that transmit patient data in real-time. From the programmable coffee machine that delivers your brew with a finger tap from your phone to your Internet-connected thermostat or a smart mattress that ensures you get a comfortable night’s sleep, you probably interact with IoT devices all the time without even realizing it.
It also changes things for business in some big ways. Another example of IoT at work is seen in fleet GPS tracking and asset tracking devices, which report vehicle or asset status, location, and diagnostics over the Internet. In addition to daily life, the IoT is changing the way fleets operate today. And it’s no stretch to say that it’s also changing the future of business itself.
How the Internet of Things Has Impacted Business
Long gone are the days of handwritten receipts and giant maps folded up in the glove box. With today’s technology, we have more computer processing power in our pockets than entire high-tech companies had access to just a generation ago. And it’s only natural that IoT technology would also advance businesses, large and small.
The IoT has completely changed the way businesses track their inventory, equipment, and other business assets. Some inventory items may have their own tracking devices, constantly updating their owners about status and whereabouts. Others are entered into inventory systems via barcode scanners and then automatically tracked as they move through inventory or chain of custody.
Many companies are employing IoT to handle asset tracking, by adding an IoT GPS tracker to valuable assets. Imagine being able to pinpoint the exact location of each piece of equipment you own, in real-time. Not only does this sort of technology make it easier to allocate equipment appropriately, making the most of your assets on a daily basis, but it also means you can track down expensive equipment if it’s ever stolen or misplaced. From cattle to CATs, IoT is an excellent way to track and monitor your company’s assets, no matter where they are.
Broadly, IoT is fast becoming a huge help for compliance issues. Imagine being able to conduct an inventory audit with a few swipes of a tablet or having your compliance reports automatically prepared for you by the software that connects your business and its assets. For those with the foresight to adopt IoT technology into their operations, compliance is becoming easier with each advance.
For some industries, IoT is the only way to maintain compliance. This is because some government regulations, such as the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate, require e-logging devices. The ELD mandate is the way truckers and other commercial vehicle drivers must keep track of their hours of service (HoS). Because this is tracked by IoT devices, the logs are now a lot more precise and reliable than they once were. Expect to see many more regulations on the books in the coming years as more and more industries find ways of using this technology to improve their response to complex compliance issues.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that IoT technology is about more than just convenience. In addition to making our lives easier, these items also create data. Various types of sensors in IoT tech, as well as other Internet-connected devices, continuously monitor and collect data.
In many cases, this level of automatic data collection allows for machine learning, making technology work better as time goes by. It also allows for in-depth data analysis capabilities called IoT Analytics. IoT Analytics helps to give businesses new insights on best practices, inventory, and sales. This data is helping companies with marketing, logistics, safety, and so much more.
As IoT offers businesses new ways of doing things and the ability to better evaluate their methods, whole new industries and careers are cropping up. Positions like data scientist are the most obvious, but we are also seeing specialist fields that would have been unimaginable a generation ago. These include agricultural technologists, who marry farming and tech, medical robot technologists, who operate robots in surgery, and other technology/industry pairings.
Other career paths, such as data security experts, software engineers, and user interface (UI) designers have grown leaps and bounds with the sheer number of positions exploding around the world. In fact, despite concerns to the contrary, it seems the Internet of Things is creating far more jobs than it is replacing.
Ordering and Reordering
In the same vein as asset tracking, when IoT manages inventory, ordering and reordering can be programmed to happen automatically when stock reaches predetermined levels. This means less time spent deciding what needs to be purchased and more time running your business. Imagine never having to manually order your store or restaurant stock and having automated inventory management of office and breakroom supplies. Today this is becoming a reality for businesses across many industries.
When company work can be done through the cloud and technologies like video conferencing allow employees to check in from across the globe, it becomes less important to maintain a brick-and-mortar office. Instead, employees can work remotely from anywhere they choose. This can improve employee satisfaction and make high-skilled talent available to companies without regard to distance.
It wasn’t that long ago that remote work seemed like a fantasy. That dream has come true for many across the US. A 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that almost a quarter of workers did some or all of their work from home during the year. In some occupations, the number was as high as 33%, and it has only increased in the years since.
The Future of the Internet of Things
As technology continues to develop, IoT is only going to become more prevalent in the operation of businesses. Massive changes in infrastructure, such as self-driving trucks, are already on the way, and many others are in the development and planning stages. These changes could open up new pathways toward better efficiency and service, but they also raise questions for regulators and the public about how far technology should go.
One thing is certain though: The Internet of Things is changing the way we live, work, and do business. And it looks like it’s here to stay. To learn more about how Azuga makes use of IoT in its various products and services, request a demo today.