IoT is trending. Companies invest in new tech...
The Internet of Things technology & its business valueSince 87% of people out there don’t know what the Internet of Things is, we could do with a little explanation. IoT is a complex ecosystem which consists of smart devices connected to the Web or/and each other. The system has three levels:
- Smart gadgets. Various objects with embedded computing system and sensors. They wirelessly interact with the network and other gadgets;
- Infrastructure. A computer program that runs on a corporate data server or in the cloud. The software receives and analyzes data generated by connected devices. Using the platform, service providers manage smart gadgets and deliver application updates;
- Apps. Enterprise, web or mobile applications installed on a smartphone or personal computer. Users manage connected devices via apps.
Here’s how IoT technology affects business:
- Improved services. Diageo is one of the companies who know how to engage customers with smart gadgets. The alcoholic beverage manufacturer partnered with a tech company from Norway to enable Johnnie Walker whiskey bottles with printed sensors. The sensors allow Diageo to guide its products through supply chains and interact with consumers. You can scan the printed sensor with a mobile application to receive promotional offers (in store) and cocktail recipes (at home). L’Oreal is currently working on a connected mascara for the same reason. Don’t you want to buy cosmetics & have personal beauty tips delivered directly on your smartphone?
- Effective digital advertising. The Internet of Things and marketing are meant to be together. A recent survey conducted by 2nd Watch revealed that 60% of US IT companies use IoT-generated data in digital marketing to understand customer preferences and improve ad targeting. According to the survey, 43% of respondents understood how to engage existing customers and met their goals in terms of demand generation. And more is to come - provided we collect, analyze and employ IoT data properly;
- Deeper understanding of consumer buying habits. We live in a world where you can go shopping and ask your smart fridge what foods you’ve run out of. If you own a grocery store, you can partner with the fridge manufacturer to access user data & deliver ads to your target audience. Yet, Kevin Ashton (IoT’s father) urges companies not to use the channel for advertising only (it should be more about brand value & quality of service).
The Internet of Things: application development & its challengesThe main reason why the use of IoT in business is not mainstream yet is the arguably high cost of smart sensors and applications. It’s “arguably”, because The Internet of Things software combines features of cloud & mobile applications (and the prices for mobile app development start at $ 10 thousand). There’s nothing new to it at all. You can also cut smart gadget manufacturing costs by using inexpensive printed sensors (by 2020, the printed sensors market will be worth $ 1 billion). 62% of US business executives have already adopted the Internet of Things solutions or plan to do so in the near future; what about your company?
Building apps for IoT devices is easier than you think:
- You address a reliable developer and outline the project. The vendor will choose smart sensors suitable for your gadget and contact their manufacturer to get the required APIs;
- Unless you run a corporation, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel & put up a separate infrastructure for the application. It’s quicker & less expensive to build an app on top of some existing cloud platform like ThingWorx, Mnubo or Xively;
However, your vendor must address several challenges:
- Security. 39% of US business executives who took part in the 2015 IBM survey understand how technology affects business, but do not invest in IoT – simply because it’s insecure. Apps don’t pose a threat to your company – it’s the poorly documented sensor APIs you should beware of. In order to build a secure application for IoT, the vendor should choose a reliable sensor manufacturer and use strong security protocols;
- Interoperability. The Internet of Things market is largely fragmented, and there are no universally approved interoperability standards for connected devices. But here’s the good news: IT tycoons acknowledge the problem & plan to cooperate with small companies to solve it. Also, more IoT companies create open, web standard-based APIs for smart gadget manufacturers to connect their products to third-party services and devices.