Evolution is not confined to the biological world. Technology in itself is an evolution and transformation of the world at large, and the way we live and connect with one another. Advances in technology happen every day and something new is born that promises to change our lives and make them better than the day before. With digital technology part of this change comes in the form of increased connectivity, of people, devices, processes and everything else.
The web that unites us all
The internet has brought about an era where everything is connected and part of a larger network that shares and exchanges data in order to create an intelligent ecosystem. Systems that utilize intelligent links make use of shared information to generate meaningful and usable infrastructural changes that can aid in making better decisions and predictive business strategies. Smart business is thus achievable through the utilization of digital technology to improve communication between people and departments.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to an infinite network of devices, machines and tools that are connected to the internet and communicate with one another to gather, share and use data. IoT is made possible through machine-to-machine technology that links various entities to achieve visibility within a system that enables real-time checking and optimization of services. In essence, anything that has a sensor becomes a segue for data collection and analysis, and not just monitoring
Practicalities of a connected world
IoT is dependent on the accurate interpretation of data and analytics to achieve smart living and ultimately a smarter world. Smart homes that can tell when the pantry is out of milk and smart cities where streetlights can measure carbon emissions. Information collected from connected devices is used in real-time to determine the current state of the environment and provide alerts and solutions. This is the world we live in and that will continue to evolve with the introduction of smart self-driving cars and smart clothes that can measure the wearer’s heartbeat.
The analytic and predictive capabilities of an IoT enabled society, builds an attractive opportunity for businesses to make effective use of big data. In Africa, the opportunities are endless with the number of connected devices on the continent increasing and internet services becoming more easily accessible. It thereby falls to the side of business to take advantage of this chance to build partnerships with like-minded service providers. Within the African context this means investing in IoT infrastructure and partnerships to enable industry to be more connected and competitive in an increasingly digitally transformed world. The car manufacturer and city contractor have to work together and share access to information.
Through advanced analytics, businesses can make use of big data to provide consumers with smarter services and customisations. The data acquired from individual customers can be used to tailor solutions based on client preferences, and the use of smart data resultantly alters business models to a more customer centred approach and broadens the application possibilities of IoT. Real-time product development is subsequently made a reality as multiple business divisions are linked and can make use of data at the same time to add significant value for consumers.
The round up – Intelligence is fallible
Whilst IoT is set to improve lives and service delivery, hyper-connectivity creates many challenges in the way of data management and security. In the collection phase, the possibility of bad data cannot be ignored as systems are susceptible to manipulation. As the purpose of IoT is to enable the smart use of information, inaccurate analysis could lead to catastrophic consequences. In addition to this, both company and personal information can fall prey to exposure. It is therefore crucial for devices to have built in security encryptions to ensure risks are minimised and sensitive material remains private.
Hoards of data are being amassed by smart objects every second of every day and it is up to those who have access to make efficient and effective use of the insights. The African society may still be very sceptical, causing many to be gun-shy even in online shopping. Although a litany of vulnerabilities surface when everything becomes connected, it is within reach to reap the full potential of an IoT enabled world. The lack of policies and budgets paired with slow shifting attitudes may hamper support and adequate investment, however, it would be irresponsible of anyone to ignore the opportunities that IoT can bring to business and the world as a whole. The planet is getting smarter and to embrace change is to stay ahead of the curve.