The number of everyday items with internet connectivity is set to reach 25 billion worldwide by 2020, according to the World Economic Forum. That’s an increase of 17 billion on the corresponding number for 2013. The upward movement in the figures is a clear indication of the scale at which the internet of things, or IoT, is growing.
IoT takes commonplace objects, like lightbulbs, cars and coffee machines, and embeds them with computing devices. This upgrade means they can connect to the internet and collect and share data. Often, IoT-enabled devices can be controlled remotely via a smartphone application.
Aside from products marketed directly to consumers, IoT is also having a big impact on industry. Among the benefits the technology can bring to enterprises is better resource management. Sensors embedded in a fleet of company vehicles, for example, can show managers how much distance each vehicle has covered. Such information indicates which vehicles need to be brought in for maintenance and which ones are fit to stay out on the road.
Bringing into the digital world objects which have traditionally been offline is a development whose full potential we have only just begun to realize. We currently use just a fraction of all the data IoT-enabled devices generate. There is, therefore, still a huge opportunity to learn about markets and industries at a level of granularity previously unattainable. If the right insights are extracted from the data and fed back into the creation of new products and business models, innovation will truly know no bounds.
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