14 September 2017 by Sophia Sykes
The Internet of things has been touted as a key area for technological growth over 2018, but how will it affect the world of technology in practice?
At its most basic level The Internet of Things refers to the inter-networking of multiple devices, allowing a joined up customer experience on multiple platforms, all of which collating and exchanging pieces of data to improve the customers use.
This has rapidly grown as a concept, as technological users have diversified and their everyday use of technology has developed and altered.
Some claim it will single-handedly enable the fourth industrial revolution, enabling factories and product creation to be “less stupid”. Essentially ensuring manufacturing at modern factories is “based on cyber physical systems, combining mechanical systems with electronics to connect everything together”.
This wide scale connectivity is what will make Internet of Things such a success, as both the individual and businesses continue to require alternative and collaborative ways of working to maintain flexibility, agility and innovation.
This could clearly have a hugely positive impact on the world of technology and has already. It is very much in its infancy however, with users quickly becoming frustrated at the inability of multiple devices connecting effectively. This will need to be a focused area of development to enable Internet of Things (IOT) to take off as much as is predicted. Currently devices cannot connect easily enough to achieve this. This hinders the effectiveness of the concept, particularly to the individual user who does not often buy from one manufacturer, as a business often would, meaning their devices are often incompatible with each other.
It has been argued that this is a product issue and one that falls into a design failing, rather than an IT one. Is the onus then on the non-technical world to catch up with the pace of the technological workforce, to allow the IOT vision to be realised? Others would argue that even if product design was at an optimum level for the propagation of IOT, cyber security limits its effectiveness.
Samsung, for example, claim that the need to secure devices is “critical”, warning that “more than 7.3 billion devices need to be more secure”, with cybercrime having cost the global economy more than £335 billion in 2016 alone. An example of this was witnessed last year, when the Internet of Things was partly blamed for bringing the internet down in October 2016. A direct result of this was Chinese manufacturer Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology recalling 4.3 million cameras that were thought to be infected with malware, caused by collaboration of devices. They later released a statement detailing their belief that the widespread infection of their devices was the direct result of their users failing to change the default passwords.
It could be inferred from this that the biggest enemy of cyber security, in the growth of IOT, is the user and rather than security needing to improve, it is the education of the user that needs widescale improvement to ensure security is optimal.
As it stands, IOT is positioned to change several elements of the way we currently work. At its heart IOT allows collaboration and as it improves so will employee collaboration and remote working, in turn potentially lessening the requirement for permanent staff and staff based in the traditional office setting within ‘working’ hours. It will provide more automation, another factor for fewer permanent members of staff and it will see the rise of AI as a predictive intelligence tool. This will however increase the risk of security threats, and the level of damage they can cause, impacting the world of technology on multiple levels.
“By combining these connected devices with automated systems, it is possible to "gather information, analyse it and create an action" to help someone with a particular task, or learn from a process”. In this future, it will allow AI to play a large part in improving the customer experience, but for now it seems clear that whether it be product limitations or an unreadiness to protect against cyber threats, allowing our devices to interact alone to the betterment of our everyday processes is unsafe and we are not ready for this level of automation as a daily addition to the world of technology. In the interim IOT will still affect IT, in so much as there will be a race to address the inadequacies of our current devices to allow them to impact us effectively and safely to eventually save us vast amounts of time and money and increase flexible working.
As to who is responsible for improving its effectiveness, this is keenly debated.
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