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Time to Embrace the Internet of Things

Ruby Grey explains how the Internet of Things (IoT) will drastically transform how we do business

 

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The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored how beneficial technology is in our lives. We’ve all seen just how digitised solutions can improve various aspects of our day-to-day life, but few realise that, even pre-pandemic, technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) have started to change the way we do business. Here are just some of the most important innovations that came with the dawn of the IoT and how they can—and are—disrupting the business world.

Automation

There's a lot of apprehension surrounding automation. Many believe that, through automation, IoT technology will replace jobs. In reality, the opposite is more likely. Automation doesn't exactly kill jobs—it makes jobs easier. Because there is less human involvement, there will be an increase in productivity and reduced costs. After all, machines don't need days off, and they are capable of working round the clock without issue.

The human employees can then focus on increasing the quality and flexibility of products and services since much of the low engagement work is being carried out by robots or other automated machines. There will be fewer flaws and mistakes too, as items will be accurately produced to meet cdrequired standards. This will cause businesses to re-examine their workforce and how best to use their human capital.

The spread of IoT technologies should provide a much-needed economic stimulus after the pandemic subsides. This, rather than killing jobs, will help businesses recover and create new jobs―albeit jobs that will require new skills and training.

Supply chain management

Logistics management is one of the trickiest parts of the supply chain since it involves a lot of factors, but IoT technologies are here to streamline the process. With devices like GPS monitors, there will be greater transparency and accountability, as these things can track everything from a shipment's location to its current temperature. Up-to-the-minute facts are provided, and all stages of a shipment's chain of custody can be mapped and verified through the use of IoT data and device check-ins.

Moreover, inventory control will also vastly improve. Advanced IoT sensors can take care of this crucial part of warehouse and supply chain management by automatically tracking and analysing inventory positions and stock levels, allowing supply chain professionals to create an accurate and real-time inventory tracking system. There will be precise visibility into the flow of goods, and inventory managers will be able to tackle order fulfillment and replenish stocks much more efficiently.

Furthermore, ‘blockchain’ (another AI-derived technology) offers the prospect, as the technology matures, of removing the need for intermediaries in logistics management. This technology can allow transactions to be verified, recorded, and coordinated autonomously without third parties, eliminating an entire layer of complexity from global supply chains. Blockchain can create a complete, transparent, tamper-proof history of the information flows, inventory flows, and financial flows in transactions.

Communications and 5G

One of the most revolutionary technologies now being rolled out is 5G or fifth-generation wireless technology, a new, faster network that allows for quicker download speeds, lower latency, and more capacity and connectivity for a slew of devices. In their example of how this new technology will be superior, Verizon Connect’s feature on the IoT details how 5G-ready devices can download a full HD movie in under 10 seconds, compared to minutes over 4G. Thanks to the much-improved speed, experts predict that the technology will be adopted by many businesses at a global scale.

5G’s rollout in the UK will have a huge impact on how businesses communicate and share data. Managing director of Bruntwood SciTech in Birmingham Dr David Hardman MBE believes 5G will be an “enabler for superior data management, which influences our daily lives”. He pointed to how the faster connection speeds will lead to more autonomous machines such as smart vehicles and robotics. Vehicles will be able to send and receive data through the IoT from other vehicles and streetlight-mounted cameras, making supply chain businesses much more streamlined. As for communications, 5G's greater network efficiency will make communication much easier, while the latency will improve response times. This will allow many devices and machines to be connected over one IoT network.

Manufacturing

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT ) is defined by Wired as networked sensors and intelligent devices used directly on the manufacturing floor, aiding in the collection of data to drive artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. Given that the sensors are attached to physical assets, they'll be able to collect data, store it wirelessly, and then use analytics and machine learning to take action.

IIoT can be a game-changer when it comes to improving operating efficiencies. For instance, if a machine goes down, the connected sensors will be able to identify the issue and trigger a service request. Even better, it can also help the manufacturer predict when a machine will break down or reach a dangerous operating condition before it's too late.

The IoT and IIoT are set to change business in the UK and across the globe. And with 5G being further rolled out this year, these changes will happen in the near future. As with any big technological advance, there is understandable anxiety, and the technologies definitely present many challenges―technical issues related cyber security and human issues around skills training a redeployment. But despite these challenges, IoT technology will not only make people's lives easier but will help stimulate business recovery and drive further growth.

© Ruby Grey, freelance business writer. Exclusively published by IEDP.

Ruby Grey is a business analyst and a proud mom of two. She is deeply interested in all things digital and technology. When she's not researching for the latest trends, you'll find her playing video games with her children.


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