The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that has so much potential, and yet to many it has relatively little perceived value. I’m not saying that we can’t see the value in the IoT, but what I am saying is that it’s very difficult to define what it is. We may say that the IoT is about big data, analytics, or it’s about everything being connected, from your fridge to your phone, and even the lights in your home. The truth is, the IoT hasn’t established itself yet, and it does not yet have its own conventions. More than anything, this what makes it exciting, because we are going down roads less travelled and finding new solutions to age old problems.
We recently sat in on an IoT webinar hosted by Channelnomics who were joined by partners from Avnet and Cisco. Firstly, I would just like to say a big thank you to all those involved, and that we thoroughly enjoyed the insights shared over the 60-minute session. The webinar was titled ‘Are you ready for the IoT to take off?’, and for those that tuned in to the webinar there was almost unanimous agreement that it’s something to keep on your radar.
There were many interesting topics raised during the webinar. One particular idea which caught my attention was raised by David Hartwell from Avnet who mentioned that the IoT will allow us to collect and share data through the cloud. In practice, this means having access to data that enables us to make informed decisions, and this opens up a world of endless possibilities.
The panel from the webinar developed this concept further to say that the data collected through the IoT becomes a sellable commodity. This makes sense, aren’t we all more capable of making decisions confidently with the data and facts to back them up? The value of the data becomes more clear when we think of decisions that could influence our return on investment. For example, it would allow us to find out which areas of the store receive the most traffic, the average time someone spends cooking dinner, or even how often we replace our lightbulbs.
Large enterprises that are able to collect huge quantities of data will be able to pass on helpful insights to smaller companies. There is even a feeling that people will want to work collaboratively, meaning companies of any size will be able to pool their data together to give them a sample size which they can make meaningful conclusions from. Essentially, the benefits of IoT mean that any company not currently collecting its data would be losing out on a valuable asset.
Therefore, we can quickly see how it’s much easier to recognise what the IoT of things can do rather than what it is. For the Channel, it’s becoming clear that network solutions which include the IoT are not just about deployment and installation; they are just as much about showing and educating the end-user on how to use them.
The reality is that the IoT is an innovative solution, and this means it can sometimes feel like the scarier or riskier option. But If we stick to the practical definition that the IoT is about connecting things in a way that allows us to monitor them and collect data, then really we’re talking about something which has been done for years.
So what we’re really saying when we mention the IoT is the scale of things we can achieve, and connecting devices to the internet which wouldn’t have ordinarily been connected in the past. The opportunities it provides and the changes it has the potential to make is what makes it seem so futuristic, but the truth is that it’s already here and the concept behind it has been with us for quite some time now. The Internet of Things has been slowly gaining traction, and it’s increasingly becoming something which companies can no longer afford to ignore.
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Andrea (Cooper) Gibson - Head of Business Development