It’s likely that everyone you know is connected to the internet for hours upon hours each day. Now that all the people are connected, there’s only one thing left to do. Connect all of our stuff.
That’s where the internet of things (IoT) comes in.
A term coined in the late 20th century by innovator Kevin Ashton, the IoT represents a new area of opportunity for businesses and a potential career path for those who enter the data analytics field.
But what exactly is the IoT? And why will it prove so important to individuals as well as businesses?
Here we will provide an overview of IoT – what it is, examples of how it is already being used and where the technology might head in the near future. For those entering the data analytics field, IoT offers a wealth of opportunity.
The Internet of Things Defined
Ashton, in an interview with Smithsonian magazine, explained that computers and software systems used to only have the information that people fed to them. He said that severely limited what technology can do.
With IoT, things in the real world – home security systems, car information systems, even livestock – are equipped with sensors that connect with the Internet. Through the use of sensors, machines can create a network where information from the real world is gathered and shared, helping to drive decisions.
It all sounds very “Star Trek” – or “The Terminator” if you take a more cynical view – but the technology is something you’re already experiencing. Some examples include:
- Global Positioning Systems. The best known and most-used example of IoT, GPS uses sensors in your phone or car to cross-reference with maps and determine your location. It has become an essential feature to help people navigate new places.
- Energy optimization. Sensors placed on the electrical grid give utility companies feedback on energy use, allowing them to become more efficient by increasing or decreasing the distribution flows based on peak times of usage and lower times of usage.
- Insurance. Some insurance companies already have offered driver’s the opportunity to put sensors in their cars so that insurance rates can be set based on actual driving habits rather than projected driving habits.
- Health monitors. Sensors attached to a patient at home can send information to physicians, who use the data to better diagnose and come up with a treatment plan for patients.
Clearly, IoT technology opens up a lot of opportunity for businesses across industries. How much opportunity? McKinsey & Company estimated IoT will become a $6.2 trillion industry by 2025.
Aside from the aforementioned cases, the internet of things offers – or soon will offer – businesses a chance to improve customer satisfaction and performance. It also opens up a number of jobs for programmers and data analysts who design, install and monitor IoT systems.
Some examples where IoT will come into play.
- Inventory management- Keeping track of inventory the analog way requires hours of work each week. The IoT will eventually change that, with sensors monitoring inventory and keeping managers updated without someone doing the physical counting.
- Smart Consumer Devices- Wearables have already made an impact on the marketplace. The voice interactive Amazon Echo is an example that is changing the way people search the internet, allowing them to access multiple functions simply by voice command, including music, audiobooks and traffic and weather reports. The invention of new devices that make use of IoT technology will provide entrepreneurs, software engineers and data analysts many new jobs.
- Remote Work- The IoT can connect a “home office” with sensors placed in the field. Already, sensors and the data they collect are beginning to replace people who once had to go to remote locations. One example is the cattle industry, where sensors placed on individual cows provide valuable information on when cows are becoming sick and when they are ready for artificial insemination, just by monitoring the frequency and pattern of their steps.