Tuesday, January 27, 2015

IoT and the future of business in a connected world

The term IoT or The Internet of Things is a relatively new term. For many of us VCR's became obsolete before we even mastered changing the flashing 12 to read the actual time. But now the Internet of Things presents an entirely new set of challenges beyond being able to set the clock.

Decades of Change
  • The 80's: desktop computers and dot matrix printers
  • The 90's: the Internet and cell phones
  • The 00's: Social Media and the evolution of business engagement
  • The 10's: The Internet of Things
Moving from a standard typewriter to a desktop computer was not a stretch. We understood the basic functions of using the computer for basic word processing and spreadsheets. And we marveled at it. Professor's at Universities didn't know what to do with homework assignments that were turned in on green and white striped dot matrix printers. How did they know that it was actually the student in their class who was doing the work or if it was someone else?

Moving from desktop computers and transferring data via floppy disks to sharing data via the Internet was not a complete stretch. We did have concerns about the security of our data and for the first time we began to really consider privacy issues. But this still seemed manageable.

Then came social media and in particular facebook where you were required to put in your real name. People who were doing business online had to try and figure out how to mesh their business with this new social media world. MySpace was really the first big social media platform and was adored by every teenager on the planet. Then came Facebook which was something that adults could understand a little better. Setting up an account was simple. You were limited in the customization but that's how we liked it. LinkedIn became the place to put your business resume but we weren't exactly sure how to use that site either. And Twitter. Twitter gave us an entirely new way to communicate quickly and share ideas in the moment.

As the technology grew exponentially and cellphones went from being gigantic bricks that just called other people to credit card sized devices that were more powerful than the computers we had on our desks in the 80's things changed. We discovered ways to connect our devices to the internet and remove the clunky wires all around our offices. Tablets, smartphones, fitbits and other wearables and video games all connect us to the internet now. 

The Internet of Things

But we have just scratched the surface. Our electric meters on our homes have been replaced wtih smart meters that don't just send information back to our utility companies telling them how much to charge us each month. Now these meters are providing all kinds of information that are supposed to improve how our utilities are delivered and utlimately save us money and make our world a little more green.

Other household items that connect with the internet that we didn't think we would need to be connected:
  • Refrigerator
  • Washer / Dryer
  • Books
  • Dog collars
  • Thermastat
  • Cars
  • Lights
But that is just the short list.

Before going to CES (the Consumer Electronic Show) it wasn't clear to me why we would need a refrigerator that connects with the Internet but now I can't wait until our kitchen is a smart kitchen.

And while all of these devices are super cool and the way they can make our lives easier is even cooler there are some concerns about what all this connectivity means to our personal privacy and security.

It might be a good time to us to look at the gadgets that we have embraced and think about what this means to our businesses and our families moving forward.

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