Not so long ago, you had to dial in over a phone line to get onto the Internet. Today everyone has a laptop, tablet and smartphone which are all constantly online, whether it’s via Wi-Fi or 4G. And the Internet of Things quite simply describes the total sum of the huge variety of devices connected to the Internet.
The Internet of almost everything
And we aren’t just talking about laptops, tablets and smartphones. The Internet of Things also comprises everything from thermostats to refrigerators to washing machines to cars and even street lights!
What does it actually do?
By connecting devices to each other, we can combine information flows and use algorithms to optimize processes. The main advantage? Saving lots of valuable time and energy – and money of course. For example, you can already set the temperature of your home from anywhere by controlling a smart thermostat from your phone. The thermostat also knows when you leave home or are on the way back, adjusting the temperature automatically to save energy.
Or look at how Apple and Google constantly track your location via your smartphone. Google Now displays useful information based on your location and search behavior. Suppose you drive to work every day. Well, after a few days Google Now will let you know the expected travel time before you leave, as well as the recommended departure time to arrive punctually at an appointment.
So how does this help entrepreneurs?
Companies can often do much more with the Internet of Things than they think. Google already saves the online behavior of almost everyone, so it knows exactly which target group an Internet user belongs to. You can benefit from this knowledge through Google Adwords, for example, to target your marketing messages precisely and cost-effectively. But that’s just the start…
Realtime stock information
The Internet of Things makes it possible to see where a shipment of stock is sitting in the supply chain at any given time – and to know the second it arrives. Automated ordering systems can take into account variables like the weather: ordering extra umbrellas when rain is forecast, for example. The possibilities are endless.
Integration into existing systems
As time goes on, existing business systems will be increasingly integrated with cloud-based services connected to the Internet of Things. Linking additional sources of information will help to optimize ERP and CRM systems, increasing efficiency. The Internet of Things will make it a lot easier to respond to demand at the right time.
In fact, the Internet of Things will help you to deliver cost-savings throughout your business. Automating processes. Improving responsiveness. Increasing efficiencies. The list of possibilities for any and every kind of business goes on and on.
Privacy and security
For most people, the main issue with storing personal information online is of course the question of privacy. So as you collect more and more customer data, it’s vital to use a reliable partner offering secure cloud applications – ideally a European company operating under strict privacy laws.
Guest blogger Floris Stokkers is a student Commercial Economics at the University of Leiden and marketing intern at Sales Channel. His interest lies in technological and marketing related developments. Sales Channel is a lead generation agency that brings companies and suppliers of IT solutions closer together.