This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Julian Hardy, CEO of a Surrey company that specialises in helping businesses connect to the ‘Internet of Things’, or IoT.
In brief, IoT is a means of connecting computers, machines and devices in the same way that the internet connects people and businesses, in order to improve service and collect meaningful data. This technology has already been put to use in many business sectors - Julian’s company, Eseye, has worked with clients in fields as diverse as healthcare and transportation. You can read the full interview with Julian in the next issue of South East Business and I predict that it will leave many SMEs with much to think about.
Describing IoT - and its more complex sister, Machine to Machine (M2M) - as akin to the Industrial Revolution in its significance to the business world, Julian made a key point. He stressed that being able to monitor and maintain devices remotely could make an exponential difference to the operating costs, service offer and business model of countless companies in just about every sector.
One particular area of growth is regulatory compliance. An example of this is the cold chain storage element of the food industry. Companies that are currently paying staff to routinely check on temperatures and conditions at their storage facilities could replace them with a wireless monitoring system. Such a system could continually keep track of data 24 hours a day and make adjustments remotely - no staffing costs, no lapses between checks, no delays while maintenance is carried out, no human error. Result: greater efficiency and lower costs.
Of course, those people who currently earn their living in roles that could ultimately be replaced by IoT will have mixed feelings about that. It was once assumed that only manual workers would be replaced by robots; now it seems that technology could threaten a whole new level of professions. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution might be an apt comparison in this sense. But the fact remains that if a business of any size wants to survive in the 21st century, it has no choice but to embrace the technology that is taking over our daily lives.
Can a business thrive while remaining traditional in its working methods? Is it even possible for a non-technology sector business to keep up with ever-changing digital developments? Let us know what you think.