By now you have most likely heard the term "Internet of Things." It is a concept that has the potential to impact not only how we live but also how we work. There are a lot of different technical and policy-related conversations happening around the subject, but most people are still trying to grasp the foundation of what the heck this is all about.
First, this is a concept of basically connecting any device with an on/off switch to the Internet (and/or connecting devices to other connected devices). Some studies, even published by the analyst firm Gartner, indicate that by 2020 there will be roughly 30 billion connected devices. Other studies project a much higher number of even 100 billion connected devices. Is that what "the future is now" really means? More than 10 connected devices per human, seems a bit audacious! This obviously poses some serious challenges. However, we are undoubtedly establishing a giant network of connected "things," people included. The relationships are between people-people, people-things, and things-things.
Already, you might be thinking, why on earth would we want so many connected devices talking to each other? No lie, we find ourselves pondering these questions, and perhaps exactly the point of this continued Future of Customer Service series, encouragement to explore these advanced concepts further! Stir the conversation with those around you, be it colleagues, co-workers, clients or even strangers. The concept of IoT in action is really an assemblage of technologies as touched upon in this series: customer facing conversational agents, machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence and predictive algorithms seeking to assist our day to day tasks in the home and in the office.
"Say for example you are on your way to a meeting; your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take. If the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late. What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 a.m. and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you? What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more? What if the wearable device you used in the workplace could tell you when and where you were most active and productive and shared that information with other devices that you used while working?"
-Jacob Morgan, Forbes
From transportation networks, to the concept of "smart cities," reducing waste and improving efficiencies for things like energy consumption. These things have the potential to help us better understand and improve the ways we live and work. There are virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can"t even think of or fully understand the impact of yet today.
On the other hand, what is easy see is how and why IoT is such a hot topic these days. It is opening the door to so many opportunities, but brings with it increased challenges as well.
Let's talk about security. Having billions of connected devices communicating with each other, how can people make sure that personal information is secure? Would it be possible for someone to hack your smart fridge and therefore gain root access to your entire network? At this point, it seems that every major name like Samsung, LG, Apple, Google, Lowe"s and Philips are pursuing the connectivity of all devices, along side countless other smaller organizations and startups.
- Bonnie Cha, recode
Another challenge that so many companies will face is the sheer abundance of collected data. Think about the mountain of data that all these connected devices will produce. Cue our important conversation regarding AI agents and Machine Learning algorithms, the future really needs to figure out better ways to store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast volumes of data that the Internet of Things will generate.
As increasingly fast internet connections are becoming more widely available, the cost of connectivity decreases. More and more devices are created with wi-fi capabilities and sensors built into them, ready to connect with other smart devices. All of these things draw together the "perfect recipe" for the IoT.
Without a doubt, conversations about the IoT will continue to take place with increasing volume. There are many opportunities and challenges that we should continue to educate ourselves about, for they pose immense impact on how we work and live. Hopefully you will join us in this ongoing pursuit of conversation and knowledge. Do let us know what you think, and be sure to follow along for new original articles on the Service Direct blog every week!