Small business, non-profits and regional, rural and remote communities hang on for the ride.
Your future is changing exponentially
Call it what you like explosive, sudden, dramatic, escalating, accelerating or skyrocketing. Whatever your call the impact of IoT it will be rapid and it will be increasing the rate of growth of how we do things.
Over recent years, technology and doing business has come together in an unprecedented way, as advances in cloud computing, big data, mobility and analysis are increasingly applied to improving performance and the emerging of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Agriculture, more than almost any other pursuit involves daily interaction between humans and very complex physical environments. The land and its soil, water and vegetation, farm machinery, animals, seeds, chemicals, fertilisers and other inputs, fuel, vehicles, buildings, water supplies and fences and so on. It makes sense then that as the IoT has evolved, agriculture has become a key sector of focus and can teach everybody about what is involved, what is possible and how to go about it.
Where is this all coming from?
In 1999, British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton coined the term ‘Internet of Things’ to describe a system where the physical world is connected to the internet via sensors. He envisaged a system where computers would gather data and track, count, monitor and understand every aspect of the physical world without the limitations of human-entered data. This would lead to greatly increased productivity, effectiveness and efficiencies.
The Internet of Things or IoT is now a household term and the reduced cost doesn’t come at the price of accuracy and integrity of data.
According to 2015 Enabling the Internet of Things for Australia report, there are three key drivers are enabling the IoT:
- Dramatic decreases in the cost of intelligent sensors and actuators.
- The availability of near-ubiquitous connectivity at a progressively decreasing cost per bit.
- Increasing sophistication in handling large volumes from disparate sources of data, information and knowledge, (big data analysis).
“The Internet will disappear. There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room”. Eric Schmidt
Cloud computing and connectivity
Cloud computing has opened up so many opportunities that can assist businesses, non-profit organisations and regional, rural and remote communities to thrive and survive like never before.
Imagine for a moment living in a world where anything can connect to anything via connectivity infrastructure that is significantly more cost effective than existing infrastructure and devices where anything can be added to the network in any place and at any time.
Devices and applications all talk to each other across the network. Data is open and shared widely, with huge amounts of data (big data) being combined, analysed and fed into cloud-based software which automates and manages almost every aspect of life. It can be mind-blowing trying to understand all this by yourself.
The ability for devices to connect, discover and communicate easily with each other, across multiple operating systems and platforms is critical to the IoT. This requires open source standards and architectures that can be used by application developers and device manufacturers so that their services and products will communicate across the IoT.
In order to advance IoT in your business similar decisions will need to be made, but how this occurs and who decides is still emerging and it is those businesses who stay abreast of IoT who will benefit most.
Regional, rural and remote connectivity
Regional rural and remote connectivity remains the most fundamental barrier, with a data shortfall in many areas. It is important to realise that decades of government’s communication policies simply did not foresee what is occurring now.
The most recent Regional Telecommunications Review in 2015 focused largely on the inadequacies of mobile and internet coverage but did not anticipate the need for low-cost IoT connectivity.
Many businesses are already privately subsidising patches for inadequate mobile and internet coverage while waiting for the NBN to catch up. But IoT connectivity is a whole new ballgame. These disadvantaged groups would do well to look to the smart cities for new business models and technology offerings.
Continuing political pressure will ensure that IoT will evolve naturally from the existing foundations and it will greatly improve the quality of life in regional, rural and remote areas that have so often been neglected in the past.
Mobility and the work environment
Employees and volunteers, indeed many people in our communities are demanding more flexibility in the way we work and communicate with each other.
In September 1994, some 32,000 AT&T employees stayed home. They weren’t sick or on strike. They were telecommuting. Employees ranging from the CEO to phone operators were part of an experiment that involved 100,000 people. Its purpose was to explore how far a vast organisation could go in transforming the workplace by moving the work to the worker instead of the worker to work and the rest is history. Today home offices and home-based businesses are the common places because of the new technologies coupled with employees demanding a more flexible way to work. The IoT is just an extension of this.
Big Data and analysis
A considerable opportunity for monetization of this ‘flooded river’ of data, information and knowledge flowing past our businesses every day is mind boggling.
Sensors generate large volumes of data that must be captured, analysed and interpreted to make any sense or add any value to human enterprises.
Large reductions in the costs of computer processing power and storage and the advent of cloud computing have created a capacity to gather and analyse big data and to look for patterns and trends that can be used for predictive problem-solving and decision-making.
Data-driven organisations take data collected from multiple sources including sensors, storages. It aggregates and processes the data using software platforms and applications which provide a much more complete picture of what is happening than can be achieved by human observation alone.
Best Practice will involve the IoT
Today best practice involves the adoption of digital technology allowing decisions to be augmented by information that comes from sensors, drones, software and external sources. It also refers to the automation of processes, where machines and systems such as robots, and autonomous vehicles act in accordance with data coming in from your business operations and the marketplace.
IoT will be an enabling infrastructure for the development of increasingly cost-effective and sophisticated business applications.
Consumers and markets can be better aligned through supply chains in ways that have not previously been possible, allowing for mass customisation. This also opens up a range of questions:
- What will be the benefits of IoT for customers, employees and suppliers
- How will industry standards be evaluated, selected and benchmarked?
- How can you best use what IoT has to offer?
- How can I use IoT as a competitive advantage?
- How do I go about connecting everything up?
- How will it impact my value chain?
- How safe is sensitive data and who is in control of the security over the IoT?
Many of the newcomers will be interested in how IoT will transform their value chain and their customer experience. They will have a much broader view of how data information and knowledge can be utilised to transform their business and their industry.
Privacy and security
Data that moves along value chains will largely originate from businesses. To realise the full benefits of IoT, network security and privacy must be addressed. In the fast-moving and open data development environment, these issues can be easily overlooked.
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The IoT will transform all sectors of the economy over coming years, and your business, non-profit organisation or community will be no exception.
You have your own unique strengths and weaknesses in meeting this transformative challenge. But the need for the creation of more ecosystems will be important. A good place to start might be calling a meeting of the entrepreneurs in your community as IoT is bigger than one individual leaning on their own understanding.
The IoT is evolving and you should be establishing policies and procedures needed to facilitate the adoption of IoT into your business, a non-profit organisation, or your community.