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What is Internet of Things, and What are its core Business Benefits?

18 Nov 2021

It has become a term used almost every day, but exactly what is Internet of Things (IoT)? A good Internet of Things definition is that it’s the concept of connecting any device to another via the internet. IoT devices could be anything from dishwashers to printers, and from fitness watches to air pollution monitors.

Interconnected IoT devices have the power to collect and transfer data over a wireless network, without any need for human intervention. In other words, these devices ‘talk’ to each other, collecting and sharing data in the process, and triggering actions that are designed to deliver an array of benefits. The possibilities from both a personal and business standpoint are virtually endless, and the advantages are countless.

In our personal lives, the Internet of Things can be used to improve our health, secure our homes, make sure we never run out of household supplies, and generally make our lives run more smoothly.

In a commercial sense, businesses are using the Internet of Things to boost revenue, create new business models, reduce operating costs, streamline processes and improve productivity, manage environmental social governance, and attract and retain top talent.

Of course, this is just scratching the surface. There are an extraordinary number of objects that can be connected, and processes that can be automated, thanks to the Internet of Things. Business Insider Intelligence forecasts that there will be more than 64 billion IoT devices installed around the world by 2026. That’s a mind-blowing statistic.

What is IoT technology?

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Objects and devices with built-in sensors are connected to an Internet of Things platform. This platform integrates data from the different devices and then applies analytics so that the most valuable information is shared with applications designed to attend to particular needs.

An IoT network is made up of web-enabled smart devices that use the likes of sensors, processors and communication hardware to collect data from their surrounding environments. IoT devices share that data either via the cloud or via a local network so that it can be analysed. Often, these devices will communicate with other devices on the network, triggering actions based on the information received from each other.

So in summary, what is IoT technology? In short, it is a collection of technologies, including sensors, connectivity, cloud platforms, machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Why is Internet of Things so beneficial?

IoT applications are used to analyse and present data captured by IoT devices courtesy of an easy-view dashboard. These applications use machine learning to analyse huge volumes of connected data in the cloud.

Courtesy of the dashboards, and useful alerts, users gain valuable insight into the likes of key performance indicators, statistics that show average time between failures, and other priceless information. Machine learning algorithms can detect equipment irregularities, sending alerts to users and even triggering automated fixes.

Here’s an example…

A production line machine is fitted with sensors that monitor its temperature and vibration levels. Where the measurements taken by the sensors indicate patterns that are a variation from the norm, an alert is raised to call in an engineer to inspect the machine. This allows for issues to be rectified before they turn into a full machine breakdown, ensuring productivity remains unaffected, and customer service and reputation stay intact too.

How can businesses use Internet of Things to their advantage?

Organisations across a range of industry sectors are using Internet of Things technology to help them deliver enhanced customer service, to improve decision making, to reduce risk, and to boost the value of their business.

Thanks to the highly valuable information collected by IoT sensors, and the inter-device communication that’s characteristic of the technology, the Internet of Things is powering a vast range of business processes. Let’s look at some examples.

Manufacturing

Using IoT-connected sensors, machine and product quality monitoring on the production line becomes far more streamlined. Machines are continuously monitored, and collected data analysed to ensure operation within optimal parameters. Products are also monitored in real-time to detect any quality defects.

Security

IoT sensors can be used to improve the tracking of physical assets within an organisation, whilst ring-fencing protects assets from unauthorised use, removal or theft. IoT technology also has the ability to manage premises-wide access control, ensuring secure and straightforward role-based access to workplace users and visitors.

Workplace well-being

The Internet of Things is the driver behind today’s smart building, a concept that is rapidly growing in popularity. A smart building is one where operating systems and energy management are automatically regulated and controlled, and where IoT technology is used to create a healthy, productive and comfortable place to work. With sensors constantly monitoring indoor air quality and feeding back information so that lighting, heating and ventilation can be intelligently controlled to ensure optimum workplace comfort, workplace well-being is given a boost.

Employee health

IoT wearables such as fitness trackers enable individuals to better understand their own health, as well as allowing remote monitoring of patients. The technology also allows companies to track the health and safety of their workforce, which is particularly valuable in high risk working environments.

Facilities management

The Internet of Things has revolutionised facilities management. When used to drive smart building technology, IoT allows facilities managers to create workspaces that operate at maximum efficiency. With environmental and workplace comfort controls managed intelligently, energy efficiency routinely monitored, and maintenance schedules operating automatically, facilities managers find themselves free to focus on more pressing tasks and empowered to make informed business decisions.

Environmental, social and governance

Environmental, social and governance is a crucial consideration for individuals making career moves, with many seeking out potential employers who can demonstrate a good social standing and commitment to environmental protection. IoT-powered smart buildings, with their characteristic user-controlled workplace comfort measures, cover the social aspect, whilst building energy management systems use IoT sensors to automate various building controls, such as the switching off of lights, heating or air conditioning when a room is uninhabited, taking care of the rest.

What is Internet of Things’ future?

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Now we know the Internet of Things meaning, what of its future?

It is said that the new rule for the future will be, anything that can be connected will be connected. The future of IoT has the potential to be limitless, especially as networks become more robust and faster with 5G gaining ground, and as artificial intelligence and machine learning become increasingly sophisticated.

Individuals and businesses will be joined in their use of Internet of Things by entire locations, as ‘smart cities’ are developed that help us reduce waste and improve energy efficiency at scale.

‘Things’ can only get better, and more intelligent, and the Internet of Things is set to be at the heart of the next global revolution.

Taking buildings into the future with IoT-powered Smart Spaces

Smart Spaces is an IoT-driven platform that collates vital data from all kinds of connected devices around a building. The data is channelled into a cohesive, easy-to-follow set of intelligence that can be used to achieve energy saving, sustainability and workplace health goals.

The Smart Spaces dashboard allows for useful goal-setting, leading to improved accountability, and the automated functionality powered by predictive analytics uses historical data and gathered trends to take all the hard work out of building resource optimisation, truly embracing the value of the Internet of Things.

Why not request a free Smart Spaces demo, or get in touch to discover how this pioneering technology can make your building the best possible place to work?

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