The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way businesses operate. Because the world is more connected, companies have access to more data, which provides both opportunities and challenges. On the positive side, the deep integration of the IoT allows businesses to more efficiently monitor inventory and customer experiences. Consumers, therefore, also benefit from smart devices.
The IoT, however, opens up vast security and privacy issues. The behemoth of the IoT is growing faster than regulators can keep track, so businesses need to pay attention to protect themselves and their customers. Here are four areas of the IoT that businesses should be aware of.
The basic premise of the IoT is that everything is connected. This includes previously dumb items like ovens, cars and televisions. This revolution of linking mundane objects to the internet has been made possible by the introduction of smaller, cheaper microchips. Now, the average person can control their thermostat remotely, and the manufacturer of the thermostat can collect data on their customer’s heating and cooling habits.
The advantages for businesses to know how consumers interact with the IoT may seem insignificant at the moment, but the huge increase in data will provide reams of information with which to satisfy customers and increase profits. Networked devices use an APN to connect to the internet.
If connectivity is the how of the IoT, data is the why. The IoT creates a relationship between consumers and businesses. As people go about their day, driving to work, watching television or cooking dinner, tiny microchips in these things collect data and transmit it back to the manufacturer or third-party data specialists. Some business managers may already use data analytics to observe traffic patterns on their websites. They know the value of having a constant stream of data from consumers.
This information can be used to understand consumer preferences and then create solutions for their needs, whether it’s delivering entertainment to a smart television or helping another business monitor their supply chain. Although the concept of an IoT has been around for over twenty years, forward thinkers are still imagining its full potential.
The IoT raises serious privacy concerns. Is the convenience and targeted marketing provided by the IoT worth the necessary invasion of privacy? The answer to that question probably depends on the individual. Each household or person can do a cost-benefit analysis of whether all the connectivity is worth it. Some people may think that privacy concerns are unnecessary because, after all, it’s just machines anonymously watching routine behavior.
On the other hand, the data collected by the IoT could be seen by actual persons and used in ways that are not in the consumer’s best interest. The cavalier attitude of some people towards the IoT is balanced by the legitimate fear of others. For businesses, this means communicating upfront and openly with consumers about how their data will be used and who will have access to it.
Because the world is inhabited by humans rather than angels, protecting the data collected, analyzed and shared on the IoT is essential. Much of the information collected by the IoT is stored in the cloud. The benefits of keeping IoT data in the cloud outweigh any concerns consumers may have of wanting to keep their data in their connected appliance or automobile.
The cloud is simply more secure than individual devices when it comes to thwarting attacks by hackers. At the same time, manufacturers of smart equipment and the businesses that operate services for connected devices should invest in security measures to reassure their customers.
As the IoT takes over the world, businesses must maintain the trust of end users or the entire project will falter. There is incredible potential in the IoT to make lives more comfortable; as long as businesses remember that with great power comes great responsibility, the IoT will help shape a bright future.