IoT: Benefits and Challenges for Businesses

The core questions surrounding the Internet of Things, how it works and how business owners can harness its potential are answered here. Find out more.

4 mins readJanuary 26, 2022

“IoT technology can be used in factory settings to automate assembly machines for manufacturing while the human operator’s time can be spent more effectively monitoring their performance.”

The Internet of Things, colloquially known by the acronym “IoT,” has revolutionized the way that we interact with each other and our homes. According to Pew Research, 97% of all Americans now have a cellphone, and 85% have a smartphone. Additionally, an increasing number of people are now investing in smart speakers, smart thermostats and even smart kitchen appliances. The days of keeping up with paper and DVDs are clearly numbered as more and more people are transitioning to new IoT technology for media in their homes and businesses.

But the Internet of Things is about a lot more than simply storing your music in the cloud and using your smartphone to program your thermostat. We’re only beginning to discover the possibilities that IoT-enabled devices have to offer. Here’s a look at how IoT technology has developed over the years and a few ways that you can put it to use in your business.

What Is the Internet of Things?

The “things” in IoT are objects and appliances that can be connected to the internet with embedded sensors. The idea of using a remote control isn’t new at all, but the days of having to root around for the right one are numbered. Bluetooth technology has become compact and affordable enough that it can now be included in objects as small as key fobs and as large as your home appliances and HVAC systems.

Homeowners are now enjoying the convenience of IoT devices such as smart speakers for their home entertainment needs, and small businesses can set up ad hoc workspaces almost anywhere without having to purchase a lot of expensive hardware and clutter up their workspace with cables.

IoT devices have the ability to send and receive data and integrate with your computer or your smartphone. Additionally, the government and private sectors are working together to continue to develop the network infrastructure to keep it all connected.

How IoT Technology Works

IoT-enabled devices have an IP address that enables them to connect to the internet. They can send and receive commands wirelessly using built-in sensors and processors and carry out user instructions. We’re familiar with the concept of using our smartphone to play a music or media playlist automatically without user input, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the technology can also be used to automate other hardware.

For example, today’s top tech trends include smart thermostats featuring Bluetooth connectivity and an app to control your home HVAC system remotely. The old-fashioned digital thermostat was a game changer because it gave you the ability to manage energy costs by automatically cycling the temperature down while you were at work or asleep.

IoT access takes it all a step further by allowing you to make adjustments from your smartphone. You can now access an easy-to-use app to override your pre-programmed settings in response to changing weather or if you come home from work early.

Intelligent Automation (IA) technology is also becoming more popular than ever in the business and industrial sectors. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a great way to help human operators manage large manufacturing facilities in one location. A factory foreman has access to information that used to take a wall of monitors to display and can run their factory no matter where their feet are.

You’re probably already using IA if you do any investing or day trading. Your investing company now offers robust resources that can automate planned purchases and sales based on criteria that you set. You can order a sale if a stock falls below or above a certain value, or you can keep your eye on declining stock and grab a specified amount at bargain prices. IoT devices such as drones can include their own form of “cruise control” that will obey human instructions.

The Development of IoT Technology

What we now know as the modern internet started in 1969 at the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). “ARPANET” was a bold new experiment to connect computers over existing infrastructure. It originally connected computers at UCLA, Stanford, the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Utah.

The network was expanded to include additional sites, and researchers began connecting devices such as vending machines and toasters to the network so that users on the network could run them remotely.

The term “Internet of Things” was first conceptualized by Peter T. Lewis in 1985, and researchers began developing the technology in earnest near the turn of the century. The first IoT conference took place in March 2008 in Zurich, and we now encounter the technology just about everywhere we go.

Cities of the Future

When you were young, perhaps you imagined the world of "The Jetsons," where we’d have flying cars, or a "Star Trek" universe, where you could talk to a computer that’s always listening. Flying cars don’t seem to be in our immediate future, but RPA is used all the time in our transportation systems.

Aircraft have had autopilot systems, and automobiles have had cruise control for decades. Many motorists are still reluctant to ride in driverless vehicles, but attitudes will likely shift once we have the infrastructure in place to operate them safely. IoT technology will be an important part of bridging that gap.

When it comes to having the ability to speak to a computer that’s always listening, we’re already there. We use voice controls to operate devices ranging from smart speakers to massage chairs. Voice recognition technology continues to improve and will get better at communicating with us in return. We’re still a long way away from having spontaneous conversations with the technology, but hands-free operation is always a great convenience when it works properly.

The technology can connect with our entertainment systems, security systems, comfort systems and appliances and offer total access and control at the user's fingertips. Your home can use machine learning to learn your temperature and music preferences and adjust them when you enter certain parts of your home. You can also monitor energy usage and get recommended settings to reduce your consumption.

IoT Technology at Work in the Industrial Sector

IoT technology enables humans and computers to collaborate in many new and exciting ways. IoT technology can be used in factory settings to automate assembly machines for manufacturing while the human operator’s time can be spent more effectively monitoring their performance.

In large-scale manufacturing processes, supervisors and foremen have to monitor large production areas. Using AI can leave the operator in control of higher-level decisions and automate routine tasks.

When it comes to the operators themselves, they can control machinery with their smartphones or with specialized equipment. They can use machines to handle complicated processes in a fraction of the time that it would take a crew of skilled workers.

In relation to excavating machines and earthmoving equipment, much of the operations are now handled automatically after the human operator gives the equipment a few basic instructions.

IoT Technology Security Challenges

As soon as new technology is developed, you can count on cybercriminals looking for ways to destroy or exploit it. What many people don’t understand about cybercrime is that cybercriminals often resort to social engineering and low-tech solutions.

In addition to sending official-looking “phishing” emails and texts, hackers might just learn a little bit about their victims and resort to “brute force” attacks using common passwords and personal data. With so much high-stakes data out there, it’s important to stay protected.

In addition to the threat of using remote access to attack infrastructure, we must now worry about hackers accessing our webcams and security systems. It’s a little frightening to think about how much personal information people can find on the internet.

No one likes the idea of having someone snoop through their email, and they’re just as correct to have reservations about having someone remotely control their automobile. Researchers are working to address these concerns to expedite full implementation for the IoT technology infrastructure that we need for the cities of the future.

How Can Your Small Business Use IoT?

The Internet of Things has become a highly prevalent technology in today’s homes and businesses, but the technology is still in its infancy. Like all new technologies, it has its pros and cons. Some human operators are still loath to relinquish their own autonomy, even if it’s in the name of convenience.

But there are a lot of great resources that will show you how to use CRM to grow your business. Be sure to learn as much as you can as soon as you can because it’s clearly going to continue to affect the way that businesses and homes operate. The IoT is here to stay, and you owe it to yourself to stay ahead of this great new technology!

Author's Bio:

Ozair Malik is an expert Technical Web Content Writer, taking his readers on a journey of enlightenment towards General tech, Information Security, B2B Saas, Web Security, Fin-tech. He especially loves to research on topics like Secure quantum communications, Secure communications for space, Cyber autonomy and automation, Internet of things (IoT) and Cyber physical security, Data privacy and user data control, Cyber law and ethics. You can follow Ozair on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

Author's Bio:

Timothy Carter

The core questions surrounding the Internet of Things, how it works and how business owners can harness its potential are answered here. Find out more.