We often talk about the Internet of Things but do we really understand what it means or how it works in the real world? The Internet of Things(IoT) is the meeting point of the physical and digital worlds. It refers to an interconnected network of devices – or “things” – which collect and exchange data with each other over the Internet. A “thing” in the Internet of Things could be anything from something ubiquitous like a fitness tracker one might wear, to a heart implant that wirelessly alerts clinicians if the patient’s state calls for urgent medical attention; or it could be a “connected car”, an automobile that uses Internet connection to communicate with external systems/devices, or even a “smart home” which brings together a range of smart internet-enabled household devices to provide facilities such as security, temperature regulation, air quality control, appliance monitoring, etc at the touch of a button on a mobile app. This is but a glimpse into the applications of the Internet of Things.
Now for the frog’s eye view- What does this mean for businesses?
Businesses now have access to unprecedented amounts of data. As the rate of data inflow continues to rise, businesses have a tendency to become overwhelmed – being unable to address the data at hand, they tend to adopt myopic strategies that prioritise short-term results at the expense of long-term goals. This phenomenon is known as Data Blindness.
The Internet of Things has proven to be very effective when used by organizations to combat data blindness. It follows from the problem described that the issue lies in an organisation’s ability to
- Sift through vast datasets.
- Obtain and react to the correct datapoints quickly and efficiently.
- Analyse data with respect to the Key Performance Indicators(KPIs).
Take the example of an IoT enabled household appliance, say a washing machine. Such a device could be configured to relay the following data to the manufacturer:
- The performance of the components of the appliance – if a particular component were to fail across a model, it would immediately be brought to the attention of the manufacturer so that they could do the needful.
- Data about internal temperatures, pressures, water quality, etc. Unless the washing machine is connected to the Internet this data isn’t accessible for analytics.
- Patterns in usage data can be uncovered and trends can be identified. For example it may be asked, among the N functionalities a particular washing machine offers, which are the most popular? Which ones go unused? What do these usage patterns indicate regarding additional features users may want to see in the future?
The Internet of Things can help brands to know more in-depth information about their products while it is in use and this can help them rectify errors, modify features and enhance the overall quality of the user experience. This will help them overcome data blindness since there are areas that cannot be visible easily like the blind curve on the road but inbuilt sensors could feed useful information back to the manufacturer efficiently every time it is put to use. The collection of this volume of data could be really useful for companies for quality control and product upgrades. As the use of IoT accelerates, we could be set for exciting times ahead where every time we use a device, information gets transmitted to the manufacturer in real-time helping them identify and address issues faster and in a more efficient manner.
(The author is Mr. Ankur Patel, Managing Director, Orange Technolab Pvt Ltd and the views expressed in this article are his own)