When the refrigerator talks to the toaster and the smartphone controls the lighting system at home, then it is fully present in our lives: the Internet of Things (IoT). But the IoT also plays a decisive role in the business world and above all in online commerce. Companies have to use the possibilities of these new technologies to be competitive. Here, user-friendliness and data protection must be at the forefront. In addition, not everything that is possible makes sense. That is why it is important to counter the Internet of Things with a digital strategy in order to fully exploit its potential.

What exactly is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things describes the linking of real things in the world with a virtual reality, the Internet. While in the analogue world things have a certain state, in the virtual world only information exists. If necessary, they trigger certain actions or reactions. An example: The refrigerator in the kitchen is full. So it is filled with real things. This fact is available as information on the Internet. Depending on which devices are connected to the refrigerator, they also have this information. If something is now removed from the refrigerator, the information changes. This means that there is less food in the refrigerator. This may result in the refrigerator ordering missing food.

This is a very simple example where the refrigerator is connected to the Internet. It is also possible to use things digitally and independently independently of the Internet. This is the case, for example, with thermostats. These react to a sinking room temperature and start the heating when a pre-defined value is reached. They therefore work together without having to be connected to the Internet. The individual machines can also be networked with each other in companies. They communicate and work together fully automatically without having to access the Internet. Such smart devices are thus part of digitization but only a limited part of the Internet of Things.

Understanding what it can do

In general, the term “Internet of Things” refers to a targeted networking of physical objects of the real world with the Internet. The aim here is to make life or work easier for users and to perform certain tasks for them. The individual devices communicate with the users or with each other. It is important that they work automatically and independently and make regular checks by users unnecessary. Instead, the individual devices and things recognize certain situations themselves and initiate appropriate measures.

All this is part of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things now covers almost all areas of life. Smart homes are becoming more and more important in the private sphere. Among other things, the heating system, the light and the alarm system are part of the IoT. In this way, users have full control over their home and can optimally protect themselves from thieves and burglars. Smart watches and fitness trackers are also important components on the Internet of Things. From appointment planning to health optimisation, such gadgets can be used to master any imaginable task.

Autonomous driving

Autonomous driving also plays an important role in public spaces. Here, the Internet of Things is helpful to ensure safe and efficient driving. The car has extensive contact with the environment and relevant data. It uses both to ensure a high level of safety and comfort when driving. In addition, more and more cities are developing into so-called smart cities. They use digital technologies and the IoT to operate sustainably, improve the mobility of residents and improve the quality of life. For example, local public transport and health care in hospitals can be optimized using IoT.

Benefits in the economy

However, the Internet of Things is particularly important for the economy. For example, networking objects with access to the Internet is just as useful in offices as it is in factories. Particularly in the information society, users have the opportunity to have all relevant data available anytime and anywhere. Individual devices and machines can also communicate with each other, making business processes particularly efficient. Today, logistics and navigation are carried out almost exclusively via digital technologies and the Internet of Things. E-Commerce also benefits from the IoT, because online trade can make its offers more individual and customer-friendly.

The importance of the IoT in the private sector

For private users, the Internet of Things has to offer above all comfort. Many tasks that used to have to be performed by people are now performed by machines. This applies, for example, to Smart TVs. In the past, a product that was seen in advertising had to be bought personally in the shop. With the advent of the Internet, it became possible to order certain products via a PC. Today it is no longer necessary to boot up a computer or reach for a mobile phone when ordering a product. Thanks to its connection to the Internet, Smart TV is able to do this on its own.

Smart Watches in the future

Smart Watches are now part of our everyday world. In the 1980s it still seemed futuristic to us that Michael Knight from Knight Rider talked about his watch with his car, which then drove up and picked him up. Today this is a very realistic possibility, for which Smart Watches and autonomous vehicles are connected via the Internet of Things.

Such watches also help us with scheduling and self-optimization. It is no longer necessary to manually enter appointments into a calendar. The data can all be stored online and are always available via the clock. In addition, Smart Watches can measure and store values such as blood pressure and heart rate. This is a great help during sports and for physical exercise.

Leona J. Conway