The aptly-named “internet of things,” or IoT, is projected to transform our globe in the coming years: how people live, work, communicate, commute and everything in between. In 2011, Cisco estimated that 50 billion objects would be connected via IoT by 2020. The industry could be worth more than $11 trillion in 2025.
Quite the lofty numbers for something with “things” in the name. But then again, how many times a day do we say the word “Google?” Clearly the rules have gone out the window. The generation that made hoodies appropriate work attire is now making “things” a thing — and a radical thing, at that.
So what about your things? Soon the physical and digital worlds will be seamlessly connected, and our devices will all make the leap to smart devices. The transition is well underway in our phones, our homes and the streets. Now, businesses are tapping into the IoT to automate remote functions and generate an ocean of new data from device activity and interactions. For logistics, IT and customer service departments across many industries, managing these devices will soon be as routine as walking the dog, and it will be endlessly rewarding to a company’s success.
The adoption of these systems won’t happen overnight, like some sort of Pokemon Go-eque phenomenon. Rather, organizations will gradually implement one object after the next to test the waters, until suddenly our world will have completed the leap forward. It’s strange to stop and think that iPhones have been out for less than a decade. Some experts believe that IoT will become similarly ubiquitous in the same amount of time, and equally — if not more — impactful.
Major outlets like The New York Times have begun discussing the possibilities and spreading awareness of this impending revolution, and products like Amazon Echo and Google Home are cementing its legitimacy. In spite of that damn name: the internet of things is here to stay.
Businesses with hardware installed around town, such as telecommunications companies, may be seeing the most obvious practicality of this technology at the moment. The same could be said for production facilities with hundreds of critical machines, feeding results and performance metrics to administrative hubs and talking with each other (the machines, that is) to optimize operations and adjust as necessary. Hospitals, public transportation, field service and retail industries are not far behind.
Your things matter too, though. Rest assured you will not be left behind by the movement. Forbes believes the IoT will change every business, not just those deep in the digital trenches. If your team hasn’t explored the present or not-too-distant applications for smart devices, now is a good time to assess the situation. It may not be obvious now how IoT objects will play a role in your professional life. But think outside the box and keep an open mind. Everything from the thermostats in your office to the clothes your employees wear — let alone your office’s hardware and tools for your job — may eventually be linked to this ever-expanding network. Soon, as with iPhones, you may not remember what life was like before the IoT, in both a personal and commercial sense.
The future promises smart cities full of smart neighborhoods and generations born into an interconnected life — people, places and, last but not least, things. Get used to hearing that word. Its connotation will never be the same again.