The world has gone digital. Cell phones are commonplace, tablets have replaced spiral notebooks in schools and companies are developing next-gen tech like driverless cars.
It seems everything is connected, especially for businesses. From automated security systems to laptops, the number of devices that are online and working together is only growing. By 2020, about 20.4 billion devices will be connected, according to a forecast from Gartner. There's a term for this kind of connectivity. It's called IoT, or "Internet of Things."
Once only used in IT circles, "IoT" is now slipping into mainstream conversations. However, not everyone understands what IoT really means or why it's so important for businesses and consumers. We'll break down the tech lingo and explain what you need to know.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a collection of devices that are connected to the Internet. You're probably thinking about things like a laptop or a smart TV, but IoT encompasses more than that. Think of electronics that haven’t historically been online, like copy machines, refrigerators at home or the coffee pot in the breakroom. The Internet of Things refers to all devices, even those out-of-the-ordinary devices, that can connect to the Internet. Almost anything with an on/off switch these days can potentially connect to the Internet, making it part of the IoT.
The IoT is a hot topic because we're just realizing how many things can be connected and how it can impact businesses. A combination of things makes the IoT ripe for discussion, including:
For all of these reasons, IoT isn't just IT jargon anymore. It's a term every business owner should know.
Studies show IoT devices can improve business operations. Research suggests employee productivity, remote monitoring and streamlined processes are among the top IoT benefits for companies, according to Gartner.
But, what does IoT look like inside a company? Every business is different, but here are a few examples of IoT connectivity at work:
Connected devices can give your business a real boost, but anything that's connected to the Internet can be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Research shows 55 percent of IT professionals list IoT security as their top priority, according to a survey conducted by 451 Research. From corporate servers to cloud storage, cybercriminals can find a way to exploit information at many points within an IoT ecosystem. That doesn't mean you should ditch your work tablet for pen and paper. It just means you have to take IoT security seriously. Here are a few IoT security tips:
IoT isn't a tech fad. More companies can realize their potential with connected devices, but you can't overlook security concerns. As you build your IoT ecosystem, make sure your company, data and processes are protected.