The internet of things isn’t coming. For many companies – depending on the industry they’re in, or the customers they serve – it’s already here. And at the pace at which it’s growing, you need to be ready now for the risks and opportunities it presents. This is an IT wave your organization can’t take a chance of missing.
As sensors and silicon chips grow ever smaller, cheaper and “smarter,” more and more things will become networked, analyzed, managed and automated in real time. GM is now making cars that double as Wi-Fi hotspots. Trash receptacles in Santander, Spain, are sending out alerts when they’re full and ready to be emptied. And the latest generation of wearables promises to let people – if they want – automatically share personal health data like blood pressure with their doctors.
How big could the internet of things eventually become? Here are a few numbers to chew on:
- In the year 2000, only 200 million devices and things were connected to the network, according to estimates from Cisco. By 2020, that number could balloon to 75 billion, Morgan Stanley estimates.
- In its Digital Universe Study, IDC calculates that only 11 percent of all data today is generated by machines and devices. By 2020, though, that figure is expected to rise to 40 percent.
- The added economic value all those connections could help deliver might exceed $1.9 trillion by 2020, according to Gartner.
- Not surprisingly, the fast-expanding internet of things will drive rapid growth in network traffic … perhaps as much as much as 23 percent growth from 2012 to 2017.
Developments like these will have major impacts on data centers. All those extra connections and processes will make efficiency more critical than ever. Security, too, will be an ever-greater concern: no IT service provider will want to find itself being blamed for, say, the first wide-scale hacking of an entire neighborhood of smart homes. And if you think BYOD and mobile have made IT more challenging, imagine adding billions of connected cars, lighting systems, bridges, health-related wearables and more to the mix.
With these new challenges, though, come amazing opportunities. Billions of additional connected things means billions of potential new services – from healthy eating alerts to security monitoring – that can be added. And each new service becomes a potential new revenue stream for the companies that can get there first.
Now here are just a few more numbers for you to consider: A 2013 survey by the IT community Spiceworks found that 71 percent of IT professionals believe the internet of things will impact both consumers and the workplace world. But only 59 percent were taking any steps to prepare for that impact. That’s a significant disconnect … and that could mean big opportunity losses in an ever-more connected world.
In other words, if you’re not already looking very closely at what the internet of things means for your business, you should be. You could already be missing some big opportunities. And every second will bring even more.