Smart Home: When machines talk to each other

The Internet of Things is on everyone’s lips - and not just in the private sphere. Small to medium-sized enterprises in particular are set to profit from the use of suitable solutions and central IoT platforms and gain an edge over the competition. For this reason, small and medium-sized enterprises shouldn’t lose sight of these future technologies and invest in the application of IoT early on. But what even is the IoT - and where can you efficiently use it in your company? We have some good news for you.

You know the term. After all, almost every electronics producer is advertising that their product is ready for the Internet of Things. The letters ‘IoT’ (short for ‘Internet of Things’) are used in almost all discussions about the digital future. From a consumer perspective, the IoT is easy to explain: broadly speaking, it describes the concept of connecting everyday objects using the Internet.

There are two reasons. For one, it makes the devices more intelligent. For example, a coffee machine can automatically receive updates and new recipes for exclusive coffee creations. Or weather information and sensor data is automatically transferred to your heating system, heating your home more effectively and cheaply. Maybe you have one of these devices installed in your home already. You definitely already have the remote control: such devices are usually controlled by smartphones, maybe even by voice control.

Don’t get confused!

On the other hand, these things are just part of the IoT, marketed under the term ‘smart home’. The Internet of Things might be the basis of everyday technology becoming smart, but it can do so much more and covers a much wider field of application. So it’s not about installing a couple of smart smoke detectors or voice-activated lights as you digitise your company. 

First and foremost, machines can use the IoT to communicate with one another. In the end, it’s much more about the intelligent connecting of objects via the Internet and, at the same time, the analysis of the data collected. As a businessperson, you have a powerful tool to understand your customers’ user behaviour better and more quickly when purchased devices send information back to you.

It is almost impossible to estimate the current limits of reasonable application, as new chips, sensors and wireless connectors are coming onto the market each month, opening up new possibilities. At the same time, standards are developing, cloud solutions are getting cheaper and infrastructure is improving. By 2020 at the latest, all of Germany should have 5G, the successor of LTE. According to a Gartner study from 2017, over 26 billion devices that are connected to the Internet will be in use by then. In the meantime, estimates have increased to over 100 billion. And according to McKinsey, there will be 23 billion euros to be made in 2020 in Germany alone. It’s no wonder that the IoT is one of the top 3 high-tech issues here according to a Bitcom survey.

 

More IoT, more efficient processes

Even now, products and machines are increasingly connected with one another in Germany. Even small and medium-sized enterprises are increasingly using IoT platforms. The result? Standardised IoT products are replacing individual solutions from the early years of IoT. This, for example, makes maintenance cheaper and more effective, but most of all creates more opportunities to digitise processes.

Do you already use IoT solutions in your business? You’d be in good company, as there are already plenty of opportunities to optimise processes through smart technology - not least with a high-performance mobile telephone network. There are plenty of examples: in industry 4.0, intelligent machines can already control themselves, are maintained remotely and/or provide constant information about production progress. What’s more, aeroplane turbines are remotely monitored and oil rigs are intelligent managed using IoT technology.

Planes, oil rigs - how about something smaller? There are countless good reasons why the IoT is a hot topic for your company. Does your company have a fleet of cars, for example? The IoT can be used to connect the car with its own calendar, and routes are automatically created as soon as the driver steps into the car. If you’re running late, the car automatically sends a notification. The printer, coffee machine and fridge can recognise when something’s missing and let you know - or even just place a legally binding order for the materials it needs. Booking meeting rooms and planning the office seating plan can be better coordinated - by using sensors, for instance.

Sensors for better collaboration

These are just some of the ways to use a network of everyday objects in business. It’s much more exciting when you use the IoT to create added value or a customer benefit for your company. One example is the field of predictive maintenance: machines, vehicles, IT systems and even high-quality consumer goods can be fitted with sensors that monitor the central components. Before an important component runs out, a message is sent to the producer. Or you could set up conditional billing so you only pay when the machine is running. With the IoT and centrally managed personal access, expensive machines can be made accessible to several people, who will then all be charged.

We can summarise that the possibilities of the IoT are almost without limits. And this opens up amazing options especially for innovative and agile smaller companies - particularly those with a forward-looking attitude.