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The importance of putting IoT data to good use

4/12/2016 8:24:05 AM

The Internet of Things is everywhere, and it connects seemingly everything. This sentiment, at least, is where the world seems to be headed. According to Gartner, there will be 20.8 billion connected objects by 2020, a number that will grow from 2016's projected 6.4 billion things. Plenty of telecommunications companies are beginning to incorporate the IoT into their general mode of operations, as is evidenced by Cisco's "Internet of Everything." The implementation of 5G mobile data speeds is right around the corner in order to support the massive number of objects that will be in play in the near future.

"Only 8 percent of businesses use more than one-quarter of their IoT data."

Because of the vast number of connected devices present even now in the IoT, massive amounts of data are being generated on a daily basis. Companies of every caliber are beginning to use the IoT to simplify their operations. These same organizations, however, are only beginning to scratch the surface of utilizing this information for any actionable purposes. According to a recent study commissioned by Verizon, only 8 percent of businesses are actually using more than one-quarter of this data.

With the growing importance of being able to visualize IoT data and as companies strive to incorporate the findings of specific analysis projects into their operations, it's important that small businesses know how to use the information generated by the IoT to improve processes and drive the bottom line skyward.

What can the data be used for?

There are myriad use cases for IoT data improving health outcomes and patient monitoring within the medical industry, according to HealthIT Analytics. There are plenty of other uses for this data as well, however. Small Business Computing contributor Drew Robb noted that sensored objects can help small businesses compete with larger enterprises. For instance, a monitoring system startup called Valarm uses connected things to give customers important data. The company was able to reduce the initial cost of the sensor network by using old smartphones as the sensors themselves.

"The point is that it costs a few hundred dollars to get started with a sensor-and-mapping network rather than many thousands of dollars," said Lorenzo Gonzalez, chief software architect at Valarm.

For example, Valarm creates alerts for vineyards to let them know when temperatures dip below freezing, preventing grapes from being ruined by frost. There are countless ways the IoT can make life easier for small businesses; this is only one of them. Uses like this and others make the IoT useful for smaller companies – it's all in the application of the information available.

Smart sensors that indicate an oncoming frost only represent one application of the Internet of Things.Smart sensors that indicate an oncoming frost only represent one application of the Internet of Things.

For the future

By teaming up with a managed services provider, smaller companies can gain access to cloud computing services that support the Internet of Things. As this technology moves into the mainstream and companies are more likely to use these connected devices to drive business outcomes, they are going to need a well-versed partner in the field to help them take advantage of the veritable mountain of data generated by the IoT.

In addition, a managed services partner could help small businesses maintain their security strategies in order to accommodate for any lingering doubts as to the safety of this data. A survey conducted by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum found that 70 percent of U.S. users were still concerned about the level of security within the IoT, but when companies utilize the services of a managed services provider, they can implement effective security tools while simultaneously utilizing IoT data to the fullest advantage. The IoT doesn't have to be an unsafe arena – and small businesses should be able to realize the many benefits without having to worry about this aspect.

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