IoT: Man's New Best Friend
So what exactly is IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become something of an anomaly in recent times, in both homes and workplaces the wold over. However, while it continues to grow as a conversation topic, there are still a number of blurred lines with regards to the definition of IoT. In simple terms, IoT is the connecting of any device with an on or off switch to the Internet. This includes devices from all facets of daily life, for example smart phones, wireless headphones, coffee machines, boilers, and even recently, toasters!
How does this affect me?
Renowned analyst firm Gartner have predicted that by 2020 there will be at least 26 billion connected IoT devices, which is an eye watering figure considering the world’s population is currently sitting at approximately 7.5 billion. That’s over 3 for every person!
So how is this going to affect me I hear you ask…well the simple answer is greatly. The hope in the cognitive computing community is that eventually a combination the evolution of his business intelligence will allow humanity and technology to work in perfect harmony, with firms behind IoT development working on the premise that “anything that can be connected, will be.”
So, for example, your alarm clock would wake you up at 7am and would alert your coffee machine to start brewing your morning coffee, and as of recently the Griffin smart toaster would begin making your breakfast. On a cold day your boiler would also turn on after a notification from your alarm clock that you are awake, and 10 minutes before you leave for work your car engine would turn on and begin defrosting the windscreen, while the fastest route to work is calculated. All this before you’ve even got work.
IoT in enterprise
In a business context, the IoT and the vast array of big data collection and data management that comes with it can seem like a distant future, however technologies are being deployed and released “into the wild” as we speak, and being utilised in many different stages of industry. They are fast tracking manufacturing processes, streamlining distribution channels and the way they operate, and in some cases even saving lives.
IoT and cloud technology both have the same end goal in achieving maximum efficiency in our everyday tasks. Recently the two have been found to work effectively together and compliment each other, in that the IoT generates a colossal spread of data, and cloud provides the route for the data to meet its destination. We are seeing more and more high profile IoT cloud platforms pop up in the marketing, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud IoT, IBM Watson and Microsoft Azure IoT Suite.
Laurent Martinez, head of business unit services at Airbus - one of the world’s biggest aviation manufacturers – cognitive computing and data analytics are of vital importance to the future of air travel. Martinez explains that rather than the two-year inspection aircraft use to have to go through, sensory data now more accurately determines when maintenance is required, which improves reliability and passenger safety, while also greatly reducing costs.
“Overall, I'm deeply convinced that IoT, cognitive science and technologies will move aviation to the next level in terms of operations and in terms of passenger experience," he added.”
One very exciting recent advancement in IoT in the construction world is with Google Glass. It currently offers AR, but you have to be wearing the accompanying Google Glass goggles to utilise it. The inevitable next step will be to integrate AR directly into equipment visors and vehicle windshields. This will link the glass with operational instructions, navigational information and even infrared and 3D views of structures. This will then come over the IoT in real time, and be overlaid onto the real-world view of the job at hand.
IoT is also completely transforming wholesale distribution as we know it, mainly at the foundation of the process, in the warehouse. Warehouses are today in widescale competition with one another to streamline their process, in order to match consumer demand, which is moving quicker than ever before. So there is no doubt that having the correct technologies in place is the answer to this.
One of the key aims of IoT in distribution, is to completely remove human error when handling inbound and outbound packages. It does this by weighing, scanning and correlating data which shows any deviation in volume, weight, size and just about any other parameter imaginable. Based on these analytics, the warehouses shipping collaboration solutions can match expected versus actual received inventory with Purchase Orders (POs),
Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) and invoices to ensure 100% accuracy and manufacture Goods Received Notes (GRNs).
While we are relatively close to seeing completely “humanless” warehouses popping up, there are still a number of elements that need an element of human interaction, however these are also made easier by IoT procceses. For example visual sensors and scales will alert workers of fulfillment needs on shelves, inside tanks, and alien objects in machinery.
Back to the future
It is plain to see that IoT is something which at one point or another is going to affect us all going forward, and while it is an exciting prospect, there is the inevitable issue of security with the data devices are constantly receiving. The same worry we have with more devices inevitably giving hackers more avenues in which to gain access to our network is the same for businesses, just on a far greater scale.
The question on everyone’s lips is what can we do to quash this threat? There is not a definitive answer as of yet, but as Salvation Army founder Catherine Booth once said “if we are to better the future, we must disturb the present,” in other words we must be open to change today and take the risk of embracing IoT and the potential positive impact it can have on every facet of our day-to-day lives.
To talk to an expert about how cognitive computing can benefit your business, call Software Advisory Service on 020 3640 8094.
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