• August 20, 2014

The Internet of Things: The Next Big Tech Trend for Business

You’ve likely seen someone wearing a bracelet that tracks the number of steps they take in a day, how long they sleep, their heart rate, and other health metrics. You may even wear one yourself. These gadgets are among the latest applications in the rapidly developing Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT encompasses any device that can be embedded with electronics and connected to the Internet. The device then sends data to a cloud-based application that processes it and produces automated analytics and/or services.

Potential IoT applications are seemingly limited only by the imagination of engineers and product developers. Refrigerators that order groceries automatically, manufacturing plants whose processes are synchronized to boost efficiency, and even autonomous vehicles are some of the possibilities.

Redefining Cool
“One of the coolest applications of IoT is the ability to immerse users in context-aware experience, using the increased volume of data from many devices,” says James “Coop” Cooper, Chief Technologist, Mobility & Workplace Global Practice, and Distinguished Technologist, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. For example, as you walk into your hotel room when traveling, your smartphone might trigger the thermostat to set at your preferred temperature and turn the TV on to your favorite network. “IoT will let the business world discover new things because we now will have the ability to create more sophisticated models.”

It’s an exciting time for those working on IoT, as the technology is in an early development stage with great opportunities. There is still a long way to go, however, in order to realize the potential of the most ambitious applications. Among the challenges, security implications and the risk of unintended consequences that require careful engineering and a deep understanding of user behaviors.

IoT services have not advanced to the point where they are transparent, value-generating, and can work discretely in the background. For something like autonomous vehicles, for instance, predictive analytics must anticipate courses of action and be able to react instantaneously. You don’t want to wait until you are scraping a guardrail before the automated car changes course, for example.

Seeing the Future
“HPE is engaging across the spectrum of possibilities, from managing the range of devices, security of the data between devices and services, and analyzing and generating context-aware experiences for our customers as the volume of data explodes,” Cooper says.

No matter the next big IoT development, collaboration among consultants, in-house IT, and lines of business leaders will be a must in order to optimize for the enterprise and its customers. “The silo approach won’t get you there. The Internet of Things will alter roles, services and organizational functions—some will no longer be needed, while new possibilities will open up around those who can see what the future could be and are willing to invest in it.

Early adopters could well be positioned to gain competitive advantage from IoT. The question enterprises would be wise to ask is this: If we haven’t started thinking about how IoT could have a positive impact on our products and services, what are we waiting for?