The Internet of Things: How Technology Continues to Evolve

April 15, 2015

Stores have eyes. Now they’re getting brains. Soon tiny wireless chips stuck on shampoo bottles and jeans will track all that you wear and buy.

"The future is under construction at a Sam’s Club warehouse store near Tulsa, Oklahoma, but you can’t see or hear it. Microchips inside cases of razors and detergent silently alert wireless sensors that the goods have arrived at the doors of the loading dock. Additional sensors built into store shelves alert staffers when a product needs replenishment.

It is the ultimate in inventory management: No counting by hand necessary—just let the chips speak up to vouch that every unit ordered has indeed arrived, on time and intact. In ten years nearly every consumer item will probably bear a tiny chip that continually broadcasts its existence to radio-frequency readers at loading docks, store shelves, entrances, security stations and parking lots–just about everywhere.” —Chana R. Schoenberger, 2002 Forbes article

No longer a futuristic dream, the Internet of Things (IoT) is here. According to the excerpt above, the Internet of Things—the connected network of smart objects— was just beginning to hit its stride in 2002 with the rise of radio-frequency identification tags for inventory. And it’s continuing to evolve and grow.

The Internet of Things is the system of devices with embedded sensors connected to a network through the Internet, Bluetooth, cellular, WiFi, and near-field communications. Objects in all industries, from manufacturing and retail to residential and automotive, are connected, sharing data, and communicating.

How do smart objects support business?

> Allow us to streamline processes. Manufacturing utilizes point solutions to indicate technical problems or when inventory is low. The IoT enables businesses to leverage these process improvements not just at a single point or transaction— like restocking—but across the lifecycle at each touch point. Consider how “smart factories” could influence and affect the supply chain to realize efficiencies in logistics and shipping. Consider how connected devices could alter how companies develop and deliver products.

> Drive new business models. IoT-connected devices can inform strategies to improve performance, operation, and utilization of facilities. Business owners can strengthen and build on customer relationships without necessarily introducing a new product. They can leverage existing smart devices and data retrieved from them to address and predict customer needs.

> Alter how companies create and capture value through products. The IoT forces companies to take a close look at how customers use products and reframe their value as needed, avoiding their status as obsolete. The IoT product provides realtime information and data. It can be refreshed constantly.

For an in-depth look at the Internet of Things, download this infographic:

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