Over the course of the last decade, many aspects of our lives have become more connected than ever before. Most of us have a number of devices that connect to each other – including phones, computers, and even other devices like kitchen appliances – and many of us enjoy making the most of these. However, one thing that we might not have thought about is how this shift may have an impact on businesses in the future and it is incredibly important to think about this.
What exactly is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is, essentially, where certain items or devices are able to collect data and share it with other devices and help to find solutions to situations that fit directly with the needs of the individual.
A good example of this is the way in which the Internet of Things is used to improve home security. Motion detectors can be in place in your home and if they are activated, you can receive an alert on your phone – sometimes even connected to a live stream of what might be happening in your home at the time. This ability to be even more in control than ever is something that is relatively new but is only set to continue.
How can this be used to improve businesses?
Experts have predicted that the Internet of Things will generate a considerable amount of money over the course of the next few years, thanks to the fact that so many people want to make the most of what IoT can do for them.
When it comes to the way that businesses work, it is hoped that this technology will allow less important tasks to be carried out by devices, which would leave human members of staff to focus on things that might be more important within the business environment. For example, if you are working in a business that includes stock-taking, IoT may be able to take over this role – even ordering new stock – so there is no need to spend a number of man-hours going through the products that are available in the workplace.
Another way in which IoT may improve businesses is thanks to the huge amount of information that devices can collect. Even though a lot of the data may seem to be irrelevant, you never know what you might be able to gain from the insights that you can get from your devices, and analysis could help you to transform your business in many ways.
One industry that is likely to use this type of technology more frequently in the near future is the pharmaceutical industry.
Here, it is necessary to ensure that things like room temperature are controlled at all times to be at the best possible level for the drugs being dealt with and IoT technology could help to make sure that this is an automatic process, rather than something that would need to be continually measured.
This also means that any errors that may occur can be fixed immediately, rather than having to wait for the next time a human was able to check them.
There is a lot of potential with this kind of technology, however, there are also concerns. It is doubtless that any new invention comes with risk and this is certainly something that it is important to bear in mind.
What are the potential risks of IoT?
Despite the fact that being connected at a higher level than ever before is very much the point of IoT, it is this connectivity that brings with it the main concern – hacking. With technology being in control of so many different aspects of our lives, this simply brings an even greater opportunity for hackers than ever before.
Although many people have been the victims of bank account hacking before – and it is clearly something that can be incredibly stressful – at least this doesn’t pose an actual, physical risk to their health. If things like self-driving cars or security systems can be hacked using IoT, this brings with it a huge potential for a very real threat – as a hacker behind the wheel of a self-driving car could cause a huge amount of destruction.
An issue comes with the sheer number of things that are becoming connected. Although there are security programmes for things like laptops and phones, we are now getting to the stage where we may need anti-virus software for something as previously innocent as a toaster – and that brings with it a whole new demand for research and work into the area.
How can these threats be addressed?
A lot of the threats involving IoT can be addressed by using the initiative right from the beginning. Over time, you will come to learn exactly how your devices should be responding in various situations, which gives you the chance to realise when things might not be right with them. If you ever feel that this is the case, you shouldn’t use the device in question until it has been checked.
If you are running a business, staff education and training are key in this respect, as it means that they will know what to look out for when it comes to signs that there are issues with the devices that are being used.
In the early days of technology, there is no doubt that there will be issues, but vigilance is the key point here. Over time, technology experts will learn about potential issues and how systems are being hacked, which will give them the chance to address these issues and produce solutions. Until then, we need to stay aware and while we may wish to make the most of what the Internet of Things can bring to our lives, we also need to be alert to the dangers too.
About the Author
This article was contributed by Cheeky Munkey, expert providers of IT support services within London and the surrounding areas.