Over the past few decades there has been slow and steady merging of our physical world with the Internet. The miniaturization of computers and the proliferation of wireless connectivity has enabled the installation of microchips and sensors into more and more things. Analysts call this phenomenon the Internet of Things (IoT). Our phones have been transformed from a simple device to audibly communicate with each other into an automatic sensing device that records the who, what, where, and when of our daily lives. Jet engines now have tiny computers and sensors that detect and diagnose minor problems to be fixed avoiding costly loss of equipment or lives in flight. The Internet of Things is freeing up the human brain to focus on bigger problems and saving money in the process.
- Real-time decision making
- Increased quality
- Pro-active maintenance
- Data storage overhead
- Reliance on technology
Impact on Business
The evolution of IoT will be highly disruptive to business and its competitive landscape. More and more data will be available providing insight into how a business really operates on an atomic level. Data-driven decisions will usurp human intuition and ultimately a manager’s “gut feeling”. Previously manual business processes will become more and more automated. This may lead to job loss in the short term, but that will likely be offset by job gains in IoT related sectors. Energy consumption will decrease as process are made more energy efficient. Overall management’s decision-making toolkit will broaden and become more effective.
Successful managers need to be aware of potential applications in their business. Previously unknown opportunities will surface, the ability to see the forest through the trees is important. Building out IoT infrastructure may be expensive in the near-term so a long-term outlook is key. It is important for managers to seize the day now before their competitors beat them to it. It’s only a matter of time, get on it people!