The internet of things (IoT) is the vast array of network-connected devices that either gather information about their environment or that can be controlled remotely by other systems. IoT devices help businesses to automate monitoring and management, allowing them to develop more efficient process, improve quality and deliver better customer service.
IoT devices are already everywhere: analysts at Gartner calculate there were already more than 8 billion in use by the end of 2016. By 2020, estimates suggest somewhere between 20 billion and 50 billion will be in place. For example:
- Manufactures, logistics companies and retailers are using IoT devices to track products through the supply chain.
- Insurance companies are offering lower premiums to careful drivers by using data from engine management systems in cars to monitor how they drive.
- In the leisure sector, companies are improving the customer experience by monitoring visitor movements in real-time and using that knowledge to move the right level of staff and inventory to the right places.
- Smart home systems are letting us control our lights, heating and security systems from our smartphones.
Clearly, IoT offers enormous opportunities for companies to develop innovative new products and revenue streams, as well as openings to become more agile and efficient in their operations. But, like any new technology, IoT also throws up a range of challenges, including the need to:
- Manage devices remotely – perhaps on a global scale – and deal with devices that use diverse hardware, operating systems, software and communication protocols, and that may be constantly on the move.
- Handle vast quantities of streamed data that needs to be processed in near real-time, but which may sometimes be delayed as devices using wireless connectivity move in and out of range of networks
- Secure devices and data, especially when using them to automatically control other devices.
In future posts, we'll explore some of the ways you can use IoT applications to benefit your business and how Google IoT solutions can help you tackle the challenges of implementing IoT solutions. If you're eager to find out more about IoT right now, then come and talk to the IoT experts in our GCP team.