Connecting the Internet of Things

For most of the internet’s infancy, it was something that you’d experience in pretty much one way: by sitting in front of a computer hardwired to ‘the network’.

We were blown away by the amount of information we had at our fingertips and accepted the sedentary way we interacted with the web.

And just as our forefathers were wowed by listening to recorded music, with their ears almost attached to the horn of a gramophone, we couldn’t imagine that the internet would be anything other than something to be enjoyed whilst sat down.

Cutting the cord.

Now we don’t celebrate this anywhere near as much as we should, but when Wi-Fi enabled devices started rolling off production lines in 2004, it truly changed what the internet could be capable of; opening new, portable opportunities for products and services.

Without it, Apple’s iPhone wouldn’t have made it out of Jonny Ive’s development labs in 2007, let alone the myriad always-online devices that we’ve since adopted, from voice assistant speakers and doorbells to connected lights and robotic vacuum cleaners.

An explosion of interconnected services mirrored this untethering of devices, all offering consumers greater convenience to control their finances, book travel, manage their health and shop. And with the likes of Deliveroo and Uber, in turn, this ushered in the gig economy, where individuals offering products and services could connect directly with their marketplace.

But what does this mean for work?

From a day-to-day perspective, many businesses have deployed tools such as Slack, allowing them to customise their digital workplaces by patching in third-party services which operate directly within Slack’s UI.

But in industry, the Internet of Things has enabled far more significant advances in how we gather and utilise data across entire operations and supply chains. With devices and sensors collecting data from previously ‘dumb’ components of their business, company leaders can draw insight from real-world scenarios and remove the guesswork from decision-making.

Only our imagination limits how IoT can transform industrial production and distribution, with physical devices and digital services combining to deliver solutions once thought impossible.

So how are organisations deploying IoT?

Take factories: those investing in IoT technologies can bring clarity around each stage of a production process, with real-time tracking of assets across the supply chain. Beyond this new level of operational awareness, IoT can introduce process automation – an intelligent system can manage each stage of a workflow based on the data collected from the plant’s machines.

And with regular automated checks of machinery, maintenance can switch from being reactive – with all of the down-time that brings – to predicted and planned-for.

More broadly, in society, the Smart City is a concept that urban planners have actively explored over the past decade, meshing together data from sensors embedded in places such as car parks, traffic lights, and street lighting. Smart Cities drive efficiency by providing live traffic management, reducing parking problems and delivering pedestrians with lighting when their presence is sensed; rather than throughout the night. And that’s just scratching the surface of what can be achieved.

New business opportunities emerge as these developments come to market. The rise of in-car telematics – data generated as you use your vehicle – is opening up an ever-increasing array of possibilities. Imagine if your car could check itself into the garage when it identifies a fault, or if data from fleet vehicles could pinpoint problem drivers across your workforce?

Data and privacy.

Of course, to realise the transformative potential that the Internet of Things offers, vast amounts of personal – and possibly – sensitive data has to be shared. And consumers have become increasingly aware of data privacy, particularly following Apple’s recent push to give users complete control of how and where their data is shared.

Things can change rapidly, particularly if you’re reliant on third-party data, so development in this space needs detailed planning and consideration. Just ask anyone relying on Facebook’s data sharing API in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Ouch.

At Cloud Enterprise, maximising the Internet of Things for the clients we work with – and the audiences they engage – is key to our approach.

We’ve helped international development charities bring data together from a range of global interventions to monitor the impact and efficacy of the projects it supports. We’ve worked with chartered institutions to automate day-to-day tasks, integrate with third-party services, and comply with government data requirements. We’ve also helped universities and colleges transform student delivery through carefully considered applications.

So, wherever you are on your IoT journey, whether you know what you want to achieve, or you’re looking to explore what’s next, we’d love to discuss your challenges and ambitions and explore how your organisation can thrive in this connected world.

 

Cloud Enterprise
Connecting the Internet of Things.
hello@cloudenterprise.co.uk

Unsplash credit, Andres Urena