Nowadays, just about any product we buy can be equipped with an onboard microprocessor and built-in wireless capability. And this functionality allows those products to transmit data about exactly how they’re being used. Products of this sort, when considered as a collective, form the Internet of Things: a world-spanning network of interconnected devices.
The implications of this trend are considerable for every area of the economy – from high-end manufacturers to end-to-end IT services. But what impact will they have on the way we do business?
Not so long ago, when a business wanted to obtain information about how a product was being used, they would have to conduct a survey. This approach has several drawbacks. It’s slow, for one thing, and the information gathered is usually several months out of date. Plus, it relies on self-reporting: many of us might be prone to underestimating how much time we spend in front of the television, and overestimating how much effort we put into exercise.
But if we’re watching a modern smart television, or exercising with a FitBit strapped to our wrist, then this usage information can be transmitted, invisibly and automatically, the R&D department of the manufacturer. This is especially useful when it comes to complex machines, like cars, where subtle faults need to be diagnosed and addressed before they have a chance to become major ones.
The internet of things allows for digital models to be created of real-world assets. This model might consist of incomprehensible code, or a 3d model that a human engineer can expand and explore. Using such a model, it might be possible to simulate real-world usage, and discover, with a fair degree of accuracy, when a given component is likely to fail. This information can be used to order in a replacement component ahead of time, and carry out preventative maintenance.
Internet of Things doesn’t just benefit assets that are already out in the field. It can also be used to track large inventories to a high degree of accuracy, and help to prevent stray items from getting lost in the supply chain. This is especially advantageous to large companies with huge inventories, as it makes keeping track of every moving part easier, without having to resort to employing more staff. Inventory can be tracked and managed using a largely-automated process, freeing up your workers to concentrate on more complex and rewarding tasks.
Internet of Things allows workers to work from afar to an unprecedented degree. When workers have the flexibility to choose their own hours, they usually end up happier and more productive. This freedom will therefore result in an overall uptick in your business’s ability to deliver results.