IoT or the Internet of Things is a buzzword you’ve likely heard bandied about—many vendors and solution providers are touting their IoT capable devices similarly to what you’ve heard about “the cloud” previously. So what does the IoT mean to the SMB market? How can the IoT improve your business processes? Are there security concerns? In the following article, I’ll seek to answer these questions and more to give the SMB owner some peace of mind concerning the IoT.
The basic idea of the Internet of Things is providing a network connection to, and gathering data from, devices that previously had neither of these capabilities. You may have seen advertisements for refrigerators that know when you need to purchase more milk and will automatically add a particular item to your shopping list—these are IoT devices.
Another example that is gaining more market share are smart-thermostats—these are networked thermostats installed in your home that can automatically tailor heating and cooling cycled based on when you leave for work, the weather forecast, sunrise and sunset, etc.
Essentially, IoT devices leverage the amount of data available on the Internet to intelligently tailor their operation to fit your needs. Tired of having to manually set your sprinklers for a rain delay? Install a smart sprinkler timer. Need assistance tracking your steps during a marathon or during your daily work-out routine? Get a smart watch. The Internet of Things allows you to leverage data analytics and miniaturized sensor data to automate and streamline small, specific tasks.
What does this mean to the SMB market? The Internet of Things is paired with another technology buzzword—big data. The intelligent sensor technology and networking capabilities of IoT devices is only useful insofar as the data that can be tracked from the device, and the analytics that can be applied to that data. Many people reading this article own some variant of a smart watch—it has the ability to track the steps you take, your heart-rate, the distance you’ve walked and a variety of other data. This data then, is tracked according to your trending metrics over a given period of time, so you can see that your average pace during your daily job has improved over the last few months, or that you run, on average, two seconds faster than most people taking the same route.
This simple idea—pairing sensor technology with intelligent analytics, pairs readily with the SMB market, if applied correctly.
Consider an advertisement company bringing a new brand to market. Some companies have experimented with eye tracking software paired with IoT connected glasses that tracks the movement of consumers eyes to particular advertisements laid out in a magazine. Pairing this with data analytics enables the company to tailor their advertisement to specific metrics that were determined to be the most eye catching. Another example would be agricultural—farmers have deployed IoT connected sensors that track humidity, rainfall, barometric pressure, and soil nutrient content to determine optimal watering and fertilizing schedules. These schedules, in turn, save the company money by ensuring that watering and fertilizing occur exactly when needed—maximizing efficiency and in turn, increasing profit.
Security is of paramount concern with IoT devices. Several recent major Internet provider outages were caused by compromised IoT devices harnessed to perform a so-called DDoS attack (hundreds or thousands of devices all requesting information from a specific target, thereby slowing it to a crawl or shutting it down entirely) that caused major hosting providers, like Amazon and Google, big problems. As with any Internet connected device, the savvy SMB owner can mitigate the unique security concern of IoT devices by ensuring that their connection to the Internet is protected via an enterprise grade firewall solution, and taking other seemingly common sense precautions, like changing default passwords. Though IoT may not be an entirely new concept there is certainly more advancements to be made that will change the way we deliver our products and services for years to come.
Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm. For more information, please visit www.mythostech.com or call (951) 813-2672.