Why the Internet of Things Is the Future of Your Business

Cassie Tolhurst

If you’re in business and you aren’t using the Internet of Things (IoT), it may be time to revisit your business strategy. New developments in IoT applications could do great things for your company’s bottom line.

The IoT — a network of smart devices — was born from the idea that anything with an on/off switch can be connected via the Internet. It’s the technology that allows your home security system to alert you when the kids get home from school, and it’s the reason your smart thermostat knows to cool the house down overnight.

Chances are, your business is already operating in the IoT, though you may not even know it. If that’s the case, however, then you may not be using the tech to its full advantage. Read on to learn more about upcoming IoT business applications — and how to make use of them.

The IoT Requires You to Think Bigger

Most of the buzz you’ve heard about the IoT is tied to individual devices. Machines that used to be “dumb” are now “smart” — thermostats, light bulbs, phones, TVs, and even cars now carry the “smart” moniker. But those gadgets are just the most visible portion of the IoT.

In reality, the IoT network extends much further: through sensors, apps, and even into the Cloud. Smart devices get a lot of the credit, but in reality they use a network of high-tech smart sensors to collect and communicate data with the Internet, software applications, and each other. That data allows the people using the devices to make nearly real-time decisions that cut costs, reduce waste, and boost efficiency.

To understand the real magnitude of IoT applications, consider the example of the Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007: the disaster cost millions of dollars in property damage and bodily injury. If the cement in that bridge had been “smart,” however — if it had been built with sensors that could have alerted city authorities and commuters to weaknesses in the structure — that tragedy could have potentially been averted.

Though not all IoT applications have the same scope as smart bridge engineering, many of them are just as revolutionary. The information that the IoT collects and uses could, for instance, change the entire business industry as we know it.

Far-Reaching IoT Business Applications

Have you ever wished you could automatically collect data about the habits, preferences, and needs of your customers? Now, thanks to IoT innovations, you can. For retail businesses, tasks like inventory tracking will never be the same.

Retail giants like Walmart and Macy’s have already started using radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors — small, connected radio transmitters — in products and pallets. With these gadgets placed throughout a store, managers can know without a doubt which items sell most often, when different demographics prefer to shop, and even how effective the store layout is.

IoT data doesn’t just help business owners in the retail sphere, either — the applications for IoT tech are as varied as the devices and sensors themselves. In the health industry, for instance, IoT technology is opening up a new world of possibilities for remote patient care and monitoring. In recent years, devices like the Kardia Mobile, a smart EKG monitor that can transmit recorded heart rhythm data to a physician, have begun popping up with more frequency.

Even city planning has been influenced by interconnectivity. Tech giants like IBM are getting involved with new Smart City initiatives, building sensor networks to monitor everything from traffic lights to parking availability.

How to Get Started with the IoT

If your business could use a more connected outlook, you’re in luck; it’s remarkably easy to join the age of the IoT. Here are some of the most useful devices and applications to help you incorporate more interconnectivity into your operations and overall strategy.

  • Integrated Communications Platforms: Phones have long been the lifeblood of commerce, but exclusively landline-based systems are fairly limited. A smart communications system, on the other hand — like that offered by AT&T Business — can incorporate video, file sharing, conferencing, and mobile phone access to give a business the flexibility and versatility it needs to flourish in today’s smart market.
  • Sensors: Whether you’re in retail, construction, manufacturing, or another business entirely, sensors are the future. Custom-designed and industry-specific sensing devices could be the key to maximizing production, reading consumer trends, and understanding your market. Companies from Internet retailer Amazon to elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp are making use of smart sensors to improve their customers’ experiences.
  • The Cloud: Though plenty of people have heard of the Cloud, few truly understand it — and fewer still are using it properly. The amount of data collected and analyzed by IoT devices is enormous, and the Cloud is one of the best ways to hold and distribute that information. Not only do Cloud solutions offer storage and security solutions, but they’re also the central communication center that allows all connected equipment to sense and communicate information back and forth — a fact that companies like Cisco have used to leverage entire platforms.

It’s easy to dismiss the IoT as a trend that applies only to the tech-obsessed. But with 21 billion connected devices predicted by 2020 — just four years away — it’s a crucial reality that can’t be ignored by anyone who still wants to be in business as the IoT tide turns.

If the IoT and smart devices in your home are your future, AT&T Internet offers download speeds up to 75 Mbps to handle all of your smart device and Internet needs. For more information please call 1-855-640-4510.