The Internet of Things (IoT), which applies to the internet-connected devices we use on a daily basis, is evolving. New terms are being coined to keep up with the growth of IoT, from the Internet of Everything (IoE), which extends the definition of IoT to include people, processes, data and things, to the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), which includes remote patient care devices. According to Gartner, the number of internet connected devices has outpaced the number of humans on Earth, at 8.4 billion, revolutionizing industries and business practices.
Record amounts of data are being obtained from IoT devices, leading to better efficiencies, not only in our home, but also in the workplace. Remember the days when hourly employees manually clocked in and out with a punch card? Today, an employee’s proximity to their workplace can automatically be documented on a device or smart phone app. Visits to the doctor’s office can be streamlined with IoT technology to reduce wait for patients. IoT is even improving patient care by intertwining data with high-tech machines, including health monitors and electronic pill dispensers. Companies in every single business sector are forming partnerships with managed service providers, like First National Technology Solutions (FNTS), to help them aggregate, store and leverage data and information being collected from IoT devices. Data centers can help businesses take streamlined approaches to their processes, positively impacting their revenue, customer base and bottom line. Data can help isolate bottlenecks and deficiencies as well as assist in forecasting, research and development.
Impact on Business
Businesses of all sizes and varying budgets can make IoT work for them by taking a look at the existing solutions they use that utilize IoT technology. Many small businesses leverage software hosted in the cloud. It is important to determine if those software providers are supplying useful information back to the business in an efficient way. IoT allows business leaders to use their imaginations to uncover conventional ways to use data to their advantage. For example, mobile credit card and point-of-sale machines are being used for mobile commerce, smart package trackers are ensuring products hit their destination in a timely manner, and smart security devices are locking down and monitoring business offices in real-time. These are just a few of many possibilities of IoT. Company leadership can now look at data they’re gathering from customers through multiple platforms and turn the information into actionable items.
The Evolution of Cloud Computing
IoT and cloud computing both work together to streamline everyday tasks. IoT devices generate data, which is transmitted to the cloud, where it is stored, shared and moved. Typical batch processing can slow down the streaming of IoT data, but real-time platforms can churn through data and analytics instantly and make it available to companies through an accessible dashboard.
Business IT teams can run cloud operations in their own data centers or partner with a managed service provider to implement a cost-effective cloud-first strategy that fits their software and infrastructure needs. FNTS provides the platforms needed for the real-time processing to support IoT, and the resulting data can provide insight into the operational efficiency of a given cloud environment. With automation, it is possible to commit changes to tasks automatically based on real-time events. Automation results in a leaner cloud environment and reduction in the number of wasted computer cycles that can be costly for companies that don’t always monitor their own cloud usage.
The Future Means Living on the Edge
Edge computing is the future of cloud computing and will have a greater role in IoT. The edge, also known as the fog, is an extension of the cloud where IoT connects to the cloud and the physical world. According to IDC, by 2020, 10 percent of the world’s data will be processed on the edge. Edge computing provides security to real-time data produced in IoT devices, including routers, mobile devices, switches, controllers, servers, surveillance cams and even high-tech medical equipment. The less distance that data has to travel, the faster, more secure and reliable it is. For example, if an internet network goes down, a medical machine keeping a patient alive can still process real-time data since edge computing ensures there is no disconnect during processing. Edge computing consumes less time and bandwidth than the cloud, which speeds up business processes and response times. It also determines if data should stay in the the fog or be transmitted to the cloud or other centralized locations.
Companies will continue to find new ways to utilize data to streamline business processes, improve customer experiences and create revenue and new business. As IoT becomes more commercialized and sophisticated, it will be easier for businesses to securely take advantage of all that IoT has to offer.