Has the Internet of Things impacted your life? The answer is yes, if you own a FitBit, thermostat, alarm system or other device that communicates with your smartphone. First coined in 1999, the term Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the way physical devices are increasingly built to collect and exchange data over the Internet – with profound and growing implications for the business world.
As the McKinsey Quarterly put it, “When objects can both sense the environment and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly.” The potential for improved accuracy, efficiency and profits across almost all business sectors is incredible.
Take manufacturing as an example. Notes Industry Week, “smart manufacturing is about creating an environment where all available information – from within the plant floor and from along the supply chain, is captured in real-time, made visible and turned into actionable insights.”
The Wall Street Journal explains how early adopter Harley Davidson is using IoT technology in its recently renovated York, Pa. manufacturing facility. Manufacturing execution systems (MES), a form of software, tracks and documents all of the information gathered by sensors and other applications monitoring every step of the production process. Important environmental details like humidity and temperature are measured, and machinery automatically adjusts as needed to maintain optimal conditions. The data allows the company to streamline production, eliminate bottlenecks, and even anticipate problems before they happen – and in fact, Harley Davidson is now able to complete a new bike every 86 seconds.
One of Harley Davidson’s competitors, Zero Motorcycles, is utilizing IoT technology by manufacturing bikes that are connected. Information Week explains that a mobile app allows the owner to transmit data from the bike to service professionals and to Zero in the event of mechanical trouble. Not only does this result in customers better able to maintain these high-end bikes, the resulting data is invaluable to Zero in product development.
As we can see from these examples, the IoT utilizes a two-part process: gathering of information and utilization of that information. At the moment, the business world is doing a better job gathering the information than utilizing it, but this will change dramatically as the technology develops. The IoT is expected to have a huge impact in almost every field of business, but especially in infrastructure and energy, manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics. Media and advertising will become even more targeted, as data will enable advertisers to further refine when and where their ads are served, ensuring that they reach the most promising customers at the best possible time.
Growth predictions for the IoT are staggering. The IoT Consortium expects that 30 billion devices will be online by 2020, and the worldwide market will grow from $591 billion in 2014 to $1.3 trillion in 2019. The volume of data will reach 403 ZB per year by 2018, up from 113.4 ZB in 2013. New and exciting uses for the data will continue to be refined — particularly in the area of automation, where human involvement with the data is not necessary for improved efficiency — which will spur further growth in the longer-term.
Those growth statistics indicate the profound impact the IoT will have on the networking world, and on your business. IPv4’s limited address space will be exhausted as the number of online objects continues to multiply, which means the adoption of IPv6 will be imperative. Most importantly, the IoT is driving a drastically increased need for reliable, secure bandwidth.
The implications of the IoT will be felt throughout your entire business model. The IoT can be used right now to improve energy efficiency at your facilities, and in some cases to optimize business processes. In the longer term, the IoT’s ability to capture and analyze enormous amounts of data will enable better control and automation of business operations, and creates a tantalizing potential to sell data as well as products. Network speed and data security will be imperative, both internally and on the customer side. Data storage will also become more and more important as the IoT gathers increasing amounts of information.
With the coming of the IoT, DQE can help. Increasing bandwidth to provide the speed your customers demand — and that the IoT requires — is imperative. Fortunately, DQE offers a highly secure fiber network with unparalleled reliability, with business solutions that grow as your needs and the IoT require. Talk to a DQE network service representative about a customized network solution today!