In this article, 2023 Awards Advisory Board member Nikki Ahmadi looks at the Internet of Things (IoT). Ahmadi is Senior Director of Product, Cloud & Entertainment at Universal Electronics. Here, she explains the promise and potential of IoT technology, for businesses and consumers alike. Keep an eye on the IoT vertical at the 2023 Product Awards. Send Awards nominations to [email protected]


Understanding The Basics 

It seems like everyone is talking about IoT these days. The good in it, the bad, the privacy of it, the security concerns, as well as its importance. At a time when every aspect of our lives is dominated by technology, it’s vital to understand the importance of Iot. 

The Internet of Things, or IoT, describes physical objects that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over communications networks. Essentially, it is referring to embedding digital technologies into the physical world. Simply put, it is a bridge between the physical world and the digital one.

There are many reasons you should be excited about this track as a product manager! With billions of “things” connected, it opens up endless possibilities for innovation in every aspect of our everyday lives. Everywhere you look there are applications waiting to be unleashed: either by creating new sets of offerings or by improving and enhancing the features provided by current products. Use cases from self-driving cars to autonomous manufacturing robots, and applications in healthcare or agriculture, are all possible as a result of these networks of connected things. 

Not only has IoT become one of the essential technologies driving human-tech interactions in our time, but it has also seamlessly merged the physical universe as we know it with the digital ecosystem.

In short, the IoT space has already transformed life as we know it. And it has endless possibilities. But it is not short of challenges. 

What Does IoT Enable? 

Data-Driven Decision Making 

IoT devices can collect a lot of data from a variety of sources due to multiple sensors. This gives them more information to work with when acting on the data they receive.

Companies are able to immediately identify their devices’ strengths and weaknesses as a result of the constant influx of data. Without the assistance of embedded sensors and processors that analyze the data, this insight would not be possible.

IoT expands and improves the data by connecting billions of devices, and enabling sharing and analysis of large data sets to improve decision-making. Product managers begin to see trends in the usage of their devices and can pinpoint areas of improvement, or opportunities for new features easily. It is important to note that it is the analysis of the data and turning it into actionable insights that is key to improving decision-making.

Real-time Tracking and Monitoring

By automatically collecting performance data, analyzing it in the cloud, and highlighting opportunities for improvement, IoT monitoring provides businesses with crucial insights.

There are a number of ways that Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring can help businesses improve their operations, such as speeding up their response times to calls from customer support or better allocating their limited office space. They are able to better adapt, cut costs, improve customer satisfaction, and increase efficiency through IoT monitoring. This includes finding volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that could harm air quality. Or showing whether a business is meeting its strategic sustainability goals. And monitoring a fleet of vehicles.

Here are some of the most popular use cases:

  • Monitoring capabilities in the Industrial Internet of Things are used by manufacturing and industrial businesses to boost factory productivity and carry out proactive and predictive maintenance.
  • IoT remote monitoring is used by shipping and logistics companies to improve regulatory compliance, increase fuel efficiency, and proactively resolve vehicle issues.
  • IoT asset tracking is used by medical organizations to keep inventory current and quickly locate missing medical devices.
  • Smart building technology is used by businesses in a variety of industries to cut down on energy costs and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Automation

Convenience is a major factor in IoT development. Humans can engage in many more activities thanks to smart devices that automate day-to-day tasks. In the end, these devices make people’s jobs easier.

Turning on the lights. Getting the garage door open. Changing the temperature. Washing clothes. Filling a prescription. Acquiring food items. Keeping track of the calories you burn while exercising. What connects these things? They all can be controlled and automated with IoT devices.

There are also smart refrigerators. Imagine having one that can tell you when food is about to run out and tell you to eat it before it’s too late. Perhaps the smart fridge could even detect that the milk is about to run out and order more on its own.

Or what about automation in the auto industry? Use cases from automation in car making, to predictive car maintenance, and anomaly detection are all made possible today as a result.

For humans, this is the pinnacle of convenience. IoT has a lot of potential for innovation and advancements.

Security

The number of connected devices surpassed the global human population in 2017. That amounts to a lot. However, all of them were not designed with security in mind. Attackers quickly discovered vulnerabilities in the IoT.

Now fast forward. How many Internet of Things devices are due for a breach? In the world today, roughly 12.3 billion devices connect to the internet. IoT is unquestionably expanding at an exponential rate, with devices embedded in everything from cars to hospitals. Security concerns are inevitable at this rate of expansion. The hard truth is that IoT devices, like other devices, can be attacked by hackers. As a result, strict security measures are necessary for the IoT system to protect data. However, with so many connected devices, it is difficult to guarantee complete protection. A major challenge for technology companies is gaining the trust of industries and individuals to share their data.

Conclusion

IoT has given us unlimited potential in terms of automation, data analysis, connectivity, and so much more. But it must be handled with care. If you are interested in learning more about IoT and its potential and challenges, check out Product Talk Episode 256 where I share more insights on IoT. 

About the speaker
Nikki Ahmadi Universal Electronics, Sr Director of Product, Cloud & Entertainment Member
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