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10 ways to make the Internet of Things pay off

There's been a lot of talk lately about the Internet of Things, but what practical benefits does it offer your business? Here are some technologies worth a look.

Now that more Machine-to-Machine (M2M) interfaces are facilitating Internet communications with inanimate devices, it's time to start strategizing about how your business can take advantage of it. M2M also adds capabilities to a growing number of Web "sensing" technologies. Capitalizing on Internet of Things (Iot) communications will improve the yields of Big Data probes -- but not if you aren't focused on how they can add value. Here are 10 IoT technologies and best practices that enterprises should be tracking and/or adopting.

1: POS (point of sales) systems

A lot more comes through these systems than mere transactions for goods and services. Enterprises can also study associated Big Data that can be gleaned from these transactions, such as where sales took place and which products were sold. Analyzing this input can help with the design of correct product mixes that are targeted to the buying patterns at particular locations.

2: Mechanical IoT readings

If your company uses mechanical devices to measure consumer consumption (e.g., utility companies), you can collect data from these devices over the Internet. Your customer relationship management can go a long way if you start monitoring usage and then presenting online reports and suggestions for optimizing usage that can save customers money. Many electrical and gas utilities have already begun doing this.

3: Web user intelligence

Third-party Web data aggregators use IoT automation to help you better understand your customers by monitoring their activities on your Web site and in social media channels like Facebook. By monitoring individual customers' online activities across the Web, e-tailers are now getting a better sense of who their top customers are, what goods they prefer, and whether they influence others to buy.

4: Remote IT fixes

Secure IoT tunneling over Internet to remote devices allows IT to remotely fix many PC and mobile device problems for end users, thereby saving the time and expense of travel to remote sites.

5: Surveillance

M2M hookups over Internet enable security alarm and camera integration with central IT systems. They can immediately notify IT or facilities management whenever there is a potential security breach or a machine failure problem.

6: Robotics

IoT now enables high-speed, high-quality Internet to connect experts with distant situations in the field. The technology is being used in medicine, where a surgeon in Toronto can perform a procedure on an individual in the Arctic by directing a robot at the remote location (via Internet) to perform the operation.

7: Carbon mapping

Researchers in Arizona are using street-level sensors connected over the Internet to map carbon emissions in cities -- a capability that could identify the greatest sources of carbon emissions and help combat global warming. The technology could be used by government agencies to monitor for carbon emissions compliance or by enterprises themselves in their environmental sustainability initiatives.

8: Transportation effectiveness

The transportation industry is wiring delivery trucks with sensors that monitor driving distances and times, track truck locations, and even assess driving habits. Activity is reported over the Internet and then collected into reports that are used to evaluate driver performance and the effectiveness of routes. The same technology is used to redirect trucks to new delivery routes if there is a coverage problem.

9: Network traffic routing

Network router failures can be auto-detected for failover to keep the network up and running. Network traffic can also be load-leveled and auto-routed to the best Internet channel to facilitate traffic flow.

10: GPSes (global positioning systems) and lost mobile devices

Thirty million cell phones were lost or stolen in 2011 alone. Being able to auto-detect a missing device and to totally shut it down protects information assets and gives IT security managers welcome headache relief.

More resources

For a comprehensive look at the issues and technologies surrounding the Internet of Things and the emerging Machine-to-Machine (M2M) ecosystem, check out ZDNet's latest feature page, Tapping M2M: The Internet of Things.


Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...

Francois Vaille
Francois Vaille

Internet Of Things is much more than just a marketing term. There's internet, so internet based or cloud powered apps, and there's things, so other kind of interactions, very different from humans, and requiring more sophisticated data processing. Simply because Things, Objects, however you call them, are dumb. That's the big concept behind our Smart Object Storage ( YobiDrive ): take into account at the cloud or internet level, however you want to call it, that Objects need a little help from their cloud friends. And they need instant help to push value added data to their subscribers. Connecting a temp sensor, I'm not interested in the room temp, but only mine, when the sensor is in my ear. A mobile health sensor will need data processing, for example to clean up data before storing. A health diagnosis helper app will need prepared data, with archives, variances, trends. So the mix of competences to build the full picture becomes way too complicated for a single company: you need electronics experts, data analysis and reformatting experts, and great app developers that deliver business value from this data. That's why we believe this can't happen without having a new vision of cloud storage, allowing each of those competences to merge around a "Smart Object" that represent this dumb thing that you turn into a smart object by plugin in competences from everywhere.


Very much one of those 'industry analysts' with no real knowledge of what is happening. I'd ignore this article if this subject is of interest and go use google or similar to find out the real story.


The real Internet of Things involves not massive data mining or hosting servers so much as the rise of lots of small embedded systems that can monitor and control things and report their activities and the results of their monitoring over the internet to a traditional server system - which can have a big data element to do reporting or a traditional relational database based system to do the same. As someone who has been working quietly in the IoT field for a few years this article really adds not much in the way of real information. Probably written by one of those great 'industry analysts' rather than someone actually in the field.


I got the concept of Cloud Computing. I got the concept of Big Data. What the heck is this Internet of Things? All I see is a mish mash of capabilities that are better enabled because of the Internet. Most of these "things" already existed previously to some degree or another and businesses that could take advantage of them have been doing so for awhile. What is the value of clumping them together under the IoT term? Seems like we just another Internet term to blog about for the year and then move on to the next topic. This one just means so little though.


this was mwant to be a PLUS 1 (and apparently can't be undone) - fat fingers on the touch interface. IoT is just this year's marketing term

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