Some are calling the Internet of Things (IoT) the most revolutionary technology to take hold, and the turning point is closer than some might think. It’s estimated that by 2020, nearly 30 billion products will be connected to IoT technology in some shape or form, and the fantasy world of Minority Report will soon be a reality.
But as with all technology, there are bound to be a few stumbles down the road. Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of the IoT.
GREAT FOR BUSINESSES
If you own a store or manage retail sales, you’re likely to benefit greatly from the Internet of Things. The technology behind the IoT is set to make things like Amazon and eBay look primitive. By accessing information from customers’ smartphones, stores will be able to use the IoT to tailor their advertising to individual consumers to match their shopping needs.
For example, if a customer entered a store and purchased paper towels at one point, advertising will be “built” for that person who talks about the sale on paper towels occurring this week. Think how much money stores and businesses can save on mailers, coupons and printed materials!
Additionally, stores will also receive digital notices the minute merchandise disappears or is out of stock. Retailers will no longer have to spend extra time and money overstocking merchandise, and customers will also be informed when certain items vanish from shelves, ensuring they don’t waste time looking for it on their next shopping trip.
GREAT FOR FACTORIES
IoT technology can improve the effectiveness of factories and manufacturing. This can have numerous positive effects on our economy by making enterprises more productive.
The unfortunate truth is that only about ten percent of today’s factories are presently connected to the Internet of Things, so to say manufacturing is falling behind is an understatement. Those that are connected, however, know a thing or two about being industrious.
One such example of a “well-connected business” is King’s Hawaiian, a company known for its sweet bread and rolls. By linking their equipment to Factory-Talk, an IoT-based software, employees received access to real-time data and production dashboards remotely, meaning they could access the information regardless of where they were. By consistently monitoring production, the factories produced an additional 180,000 pounds of bread each day, thereby doubling previous rates.
Think about this… If every factory in America used this kind of software, what kind of economic growth would we witness in just a matter of weeks?
GREAT FOR TRANSPORTATION
If you live in a big city, you probably know getting around town isn’t always simple. Sometimes you wind up having to take multiple trains or buses to get where you’re going, only to have to top it off with a last-minute cab ride.
That’s why big cities like London are using the IoT to collect data about consumers from ticketing systems, vehicle sensors, and even traffic signals. A traveler is issued what’s known as an Oyster card, which is an IoT-infused debit card that works to pay fares for trains and buses. Swiping one’s card sends data about the customer to a central source that works to minimize the distance, routes and times one must spend on roads to ensure they get to where they’re going quickly.
Okay, we’ve covered some of the good stuff. Now, let’s look at a few of the problems that arise from IoT technology.
The Internet of Things works to access private information to tailor advertising and maximize business, but in doing so, it can leave you vulnerable. At the end of the day, the IoT is a form of Internet technology, meaning it can be hacked and exploited, so if it’s storing things such as your Birthdate and address (or perhaps even more personal information such as the password to your home’s alarm system), this can certainly be a problem.
Let’s not forget – just two years ago, many retailers began installing chip readers into their check-out systems because of ongoing data breaches. Now, suddenly we’re willing to entrust our most personal information to streaming Internet waves that can be accessed by “computerized evil-doers?” It’s a scary thought when one considers the possibilities, so if privacy’s your thing, the IoT does present a dark side that’s not particularly enticing.
Well, let’s clear this up a bit… The technology itself isn’t expensive. It’s what one needs to “install” or utilize it into their business that can be rather costly.
To fully connect one’s company to the Internet of Things, a business owner will require the assistance of a trained data scientist, and these scientists’ time and expertise are likely to break the bank. In fact, their rates are usually so high, many businesses are refusing to accept the IoT early to avoid paying the high prices of installation.
Sadly, many enterprises are simply delaying the inevitable, as time will come when the world won’t function without the IoT. Perhaps there’s hope that as its technology becomes more common, rates for data scientists will become less exorbitant.
EMPLOYMENT CAN DROP
There’s a downside to technology suddenly doing many of man’s jobs… Man can become obsolete.
As the IoT takes over and removes printing needs, barcodes and other elements that were once common in American businesses, several companies that once performed necessary services to make these items available may disappear, along with their employees.
Where will they go? With their trades gone and their jobs suddenly outdated, it’s hard to say whether many human beings will be able to compete and find employment in other departments. Sure, the IoT is also slated to create several jobs down the line, but many of them are likely to be technical, and those without the right degrees or training could find themselves at the end of the employment line.