What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things can be described as a network of interlinked objects, allowing for the ability to digitally transfer information between devices and people. This means the IoT has driven changes on an unprecedented scale. From businesses to our personal lives, technology is embedded into every fibre of society, which has changed and transformed established norms, bringing both exciting opportunities and challenges.
Last Tuesday, I attended an event about the IoT, which looked at the opportunities and challenges for businesses and individuals. This event was organised by Grant Thornton and held at their offices in the Royal Liver Building, as part of The Edge 2016 festival.
Chaired by Alex Baleta of Grant Thornton, the event featured three excellent speakers, who contributed an informal and thought provoking discussion, that gave the audience including myself, something to think about. The speakers were Tim Griggs from Arup, Steven Revill from UrbanTide and Dean Ward from Evoke. Working in IT with a passion in using technology to help benefit others, I was very keen to listen and learn, with an open mind.
The discussion covered both sides of the IoT. This was done through a series of questions asked by Alex, followed by individual responses given by each speaker in turn. What was pleasing for me, was that each speaker contributed equally well, and not only demonstrated their knowledge, but their responses were polite, pleasant, succinct and jargon-free. In truth, listening to what Tim, Steven and Dean had to say was nothing but a pleasure.
I learned so much on the opportunities and challenges provided by the IoT. For instance the IoT is at an early stage. As a result there is a massive learning curve involved, with understanding the effects on your business and industry. In addition, one of the challenges is the industrial and technological landscape changes constantly, meaning you will need to future proof your business.
I have included other examples of opportunities and challenges below.
- Potential to improve people, cities and economic growth.
- Connecting and engaging with people who could not be previously reached.
- Disruption of business models, which can bring new products and services to customers.
- Changing how people access services e.g. self-service facilities.
- Reducing of costs and wastage through connectivity, collection and smarter data analysis.
- Automation of processes allowing staff to deal directly with customers.
- Export of knowledge, skills and capabilities.
- IoT does not replace business strategies or the ability to think.
- Need to constantly know customer needs and continually deliver.
- All sectors and industries need to learn and understand the IoT is a long-term journey.
- Discover and map the capabilities and skill sets you currently have.
- Remember to try, but don’t jump too far.
- Important to have a reliable infrastructure.
- There will also be security, connectivity and performance considerations.
Upon reflection, I came away from the event with a better understanding of the IoT. As technology drives changes, I understand the importance for businesses to embraces the opportunities provided, whilst tackling and overcoming the associated challenges. I also realise that the IoT can generate new ideas, that can deliver value to customers. Finally it is important that businesses embrace the IoT, for the simple reason that failure to embrace change and move forward with the times, will see many fall away by the wayside.
To conclude my thoughts, I really enjoyed the event and would like to thank everyone involved. My thanks include Alex and everyone at Grant Thornton and Liverpool LEP, for putting the event together. In addition, I would also like to thank Tim, Steven and Dean for contributing to an excellent discussion.