How the 'internet of things' will impact your business. Nothing will be offline anymore.
17th February 2015

internet_of_thingsAfter the 'cloud' and 'big data' its now time for the 'internet of things' to take centre stage in the technology world. And like any new technology there is as much hype as there is reality. The truth is that the internet of things is already here in many small ways, is growing at a good rate but has a huge amount of resistance to overcome before being adopted everywhere. This article is not about 'internet of things' but the impact it will have on the average business owner already struggling to cope with rapid technological advances.

The distinction between 'online' and 'offline' will disappear!

A lot of business owners take shelter under the flag that their businesses are 'offline' businesses and there will be no need to go 'online'. They are satisfied with a minuscule web presence and the old way of doing things. They are going to get killed by the new generation turks who will use embedded technology in everything to be more connected, more efficient and also more relevant. If you remain 'offline' you will actually go 'Offline' (Dead). No industry is going to be immune to this. There is nowhere to hide. It will only be a question of when.

The amount of data coming at you will multiply. Data overload will be an actual danger.

The 'internet of things' is going to generate a lot of data from the 'things'. Every touch point with the consumer or client is going to produce data and its all going to come streaming to you. The number of touch points is going to multiply like crazy. From interactive labels on packaging to smart chips in devices, there is going to be a lot of feedback and response coming your way. How you handle and leverage this data will determine your future competitiveness. Rest assured that there will be (and already are) companies that will leverage data beautifully to discover insights and grow their businesses. Are you going to be one of them?

The 'internet of things' will produce its own 'experts' and 'consultants'. You will have to use them.

When social media became main stream it created its own cottage industry of experts and consultants who helped leverage it for marketing. Similarly the 'internet of things' is going to produce its own sub industry of consultants and experts who will help you make sense of it and use it for your own business growth. Most business owners will have to use these people due to the sheer complexity involved in not only connecting but also making sense of the data coming from the touch points. In-house teams will definitely be set up by the larger companies and entire departments will be dedicated to this.

Privacy is going to become a real big issue with consumers. Lawsuits are going to be filed. Tread carefully.

The fundamental question in the debate over privacy for the 'internet of things' is how much should the company / business know. Should they know when and how many times you brew coffee in the day? Should they know where you drove to last weekend? Should they know how many people entered and exited your office this week? There is a very thin line between 'what is essential to know for service' and what is simply intrusive. Businesses will have to walk this line everyday and make sure some overzealous employee does not cross the line. We have already seen the first few salvos fired at Google and Facebook. It's only going to get crazier from here on end.

Its coming. Be ready.

Whether you are a florist or a coffee shop. Whether you manufacture washing machines or clothing. The 'internet of things' is coming. Its one of those inexorable things that will come over us all. All we can do is prepare and be ready for it. The first step is to stop ignoring it.

Cheers,

Ron

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