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IoT 101 – The Easy Guide To The Internet Of Things

IoT The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, (or IoT for short) is a network of connected objects. These objects are all connected to each other through the internet.

Say what now?

If you suffer from robophobia (someone with a fear of robots), stop reading right now. Because this is going to be a bone-chilling horror novel. But for the rest of you, we’re going to roll into the realms of sci-fi.

In a time, long, long ago…

The IoT is what the future should have been like. 

back to the future

In the old days (the 90’s), we had false hopes for the future. We thought that the year 2000 and onwards would bring hoverboards, time travel, and flying cars. At least anyone who watched Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in the 1985 film, “Back To The Future” believed it would!

The year 2000 came and went, and I still don’t own a hoverboard. Maybe there’s a billionaire someplace who owns a flying car. But, we know they aren’t available for consumers.

Yet, the present-day gives us new hope for the future.

Richard Branson’s, Virgin Galactic is busy working on a revolutionary mode of transport. To paraphrase, a rocket will fire you into space. The earth will rotate and you will re-enter the atmosphere at a precise time. The result is you could commute from London to Melbourne in just 2 hours! 

Wow! 

This is about a 24-hour journey using today’s methods.

Something exists right now that is both exciting and terrifying. It’s the Internet of Things.

Introducing Skynet, the Future of Technology

skynet

I’m sorry if you don’t know what Skynet is. In the 1984 film “Terminator“, Skynet is the company that introduced Artificial Intelligence. Skynet produced the terminators who had the responsibility of killing the human resistance.

If Skynet existed today, they would be the ones pushing IoT and driving the development of it. In a way, I’m glad Skynet doesn’t exist. Because, as much as I like Mr. Schwarzenegger, I’m not a fan of robots running around with guns killing humans.

Bringing things back to reality… 

The concept of connecting several software packages to share information is familiar to most. 

But what about objects? Yeah, that’s right, not so much.

Think about your entire world connected to the internet. What would that look like?

It’s like having your toaster connected to your building lights and garbage disposal. Or your garage door connected to your car. Or your fridge connected to the grocery store computers. And all using the internet.

Is that a scary thought or something you would embrace?

I want to embrace it, but I’m also apprehensive at the same time. 

The Boundaries Are Closer Than You Think!

Whether you agree with the concept of the IoT or not, it exists right now. Have you heard of home automation? It’s where you can connect your lights to your sun blinds and TV and stereo and more. At the click of a button on an iPad or wall console, you can activate a “mode” that adjusts the dimmers on the lights. Adjusts the music volume and closes the blinds. Maybe you could activate a water feature as well.

IoT home automation

Imagine, when your alarm clock goes off in the morning that you could program several things to occur. What would you want to have happen? maybe you could turn the lights on, boil the kettle and switch on the shower and play some soothing music. The possibilities are endless.

This is where we are at right now with our technology.

And It’s where I think we should have been by the year 2000.

Automation and The Internet of Things

When I think of automating procedures I don’t think of making toast when my alarm clock goes off. 

I think of manufacturing and other procedure-related activities.

Let’s say that I’m a manufacturer, and everything in my factory exists in the IoT. If a fire starts the smoke detectors will set off the sprinklers. But this is normal behaviour for us, it’s nothing new.

But, we all know water and electricity don’t mix. So, what if the smoke alarms had more control. Maybe if the smoke alarms could shut down the machines. Then they could isolate the area with smoke doors we could save lives and machines. 

We can get real fancy with this. What if the smoke alarms could also dispatch drones to rescue humans caught in the fire?

Now, we’re talking. But this is a small-scale effect. What would you say to South Korea? They have wired the whole city in a way that computers can automate everything. We’re talking about everything from water supplies to traffic lights.

Scary isn’t it? Imagine what a hacker could do if they got access to the system. They could wreak havoc and cause mayhem.

An Orson Welles Nightmare

Orson Welles

One of my favourite authors is Orson Welles. I just loved his clear, objective opinions and undying passion for exposing control mechanisms. 

If he had predicted the Internet of Things I would hazard a guess he would have shunned it. I mean the possibilities of control are limitless. 

If the Government had their wicked way, they could connect our cars to a speed monitoring system. If we broke the speed limit we could get a speeding ticket without getting caught by a camera or police officer.

IoT For Business

Where innovation exists there is always a business leading the way. Pushing the boundaries of acceptance and ability. And this is how we expand and grow as a society – by using competition and striving to be better.

The possibilities of IoT for business are endless.

For example, in 2011 LG produced a refrigerator capable of tracking its contents. Imagine if you “allowed” your fridge to connect to the grocery store and place an order for milk or chicken? The grocery store would welcome this because they are securing your business.

smart IoT fridge

So, if I owned a grocery store I would want to make it easier for people to connect their fridge to my ordering system. 

I could then advertise this functionality. And while it may seem like a gimmick now, the future brings us much hope and scope. Right now, my competitors aren’t using this technology, so I get the edge.

We already have iBeacons for Apple devices. A store can set up an iBeacon to push out ads to Apple devices. And this is the beginning of IoT.

Marketing with the Internet of Things

There is much application of IoT for industrial, Governmental and military use. These things are obvious. 

graph

Gartner Inc, states in this report there will be 6.4 billion connected devices in 2016. But by 2020 there will be 20 billion. That’s a lot of devices all working together.

But what about the small business? How can small businesses leverage the Internet of Things for their own marketing?

One of the biggest ways is this.

By tracking purchases you can offer customers specific offers when they enter your store. Just take a moment to let that sink in… A customer, Bob, arrives in your store to buy a tent.

OK, so what do you now know about Bob? He likes camping. 

If Bob just bought a tent, he could be in the market for a sleeping bag, now or in the future. 

This would seem obvious, right?

So, if you tracked Bob’s tent purchase you could deliver a complementary product offer to him. This would keep Bob as a regular customer.

Now, with the IoT you can offer Bob a sleeping bag at a discount when he walks into the area where they are on display. Or you could give him an irresistible deal on a new flashlight.

The point is that you can pinpoint your marketing to exactly the things Bob is interested in. But, at the time he is interested in them. It’s laser targeting for the vendor, and helpful to Bob. So everyone wins.

Bob the Ideal Citizen

Bob owns a fridge connected to IoT. His fridge is tracking how much cheese he’s got, amongst other things.

While Bob is in the local store an alert pops up on his phone. The alert tells him that his supply of cheese is running low. But, it also states that he can pick up brand X cheese at aisle 4, about halfway down.

block of cheese

Spooky!

Now, if brand Y didn’t implement this technology they lose out on the sale. but brand X wins the sale. OK, it’s a block of cheese, but I’m just making a point here.

The concept is the fridge, the phone, the grocery stores and geolocators connect to IoT. By sharing information, they are able to provide a precise service to Bob.

You could even have the groceries delivered straight to your door with this system.

To Boldly Go…

The Internet of Things is most like a Sci-Fi series. And it wouldn’t be out of place in Star Trek or Dr. Who because of this. We are on the edge of technological expansion, pioneering discovery and advancement.

This is the future, and in the light of #StarTrek50 we will “Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before”!

It’s time for action. So what can you do to get involved?

Regardless of the size of your organization, you’ll need to start with a plan.

business plan

You need to figure out what you want to achieve. Because there is little point adopting IoT just for the sake of it. Some questions you could ask yourself are.

  • What systems could be automatic?
  • Where can I save time in my production process?
  • How can I get a greater customer satisfaction?
  • What is going to make the customer keep coming back for more?
  • What events do I need to track and keep my eye on?

Creating the Industry

One of the best ways for manufacturers to take advantage of IoT is to reach out to people LinkedIn. Get in front of the distributors and retail stores who will sell your products.

There is also scope for a healthy email campaign to help raise awareness of your products.

And of course, it almost goes without saying. But Social Media is a prime platform for telling people about your products and services.

social media IoT

For marketers, you need to be getting in touch with distributors. Then working out ways to get these products into the hands of the corporations and consumers.

Again Social Media is ideal but of course, don’t forget that social media is just one channel. There are other channels of media to consider such as.

  • TV.
  • Radio.
  • Fax marketing.
  • Billboards.
  • Flyers.
  • Email.
  • And more…

All of which form a marketing strategy from which you can acheive your business goals.