After quite a bit of press the last few years, the IoT crazy has slowed a bit. I suspect this is because many of the consumer type IoT devices, such as refrigerators and washing machines, haven’t proven to be as useful or exciting as their developers originally thought. With all of the security issues that we’ve seen as well, having more interconnected “things” doesn’t seem to be so desirable for many individuals.
In the industrial world, IoT is still thriving and growing, as businesses see just how inefficient they have been in the past. The way that many people have gotten business done is with lots of hard work and good luck along the way. Certainly farmers and ranchers have counted on instincts and good weather more often than science. Those items still matter, but smaller sensors and connected IoT devices can help reduce some of the risk and ensure better yields from your efforts.
There’s an example of this in a short article about how various IoT devices are being used to help shrimp farmers in Columbia. Some of the uses, such as cameras to detect theft, are obvious, but the additional use of computing power and logic to reduce the need for a human to stare at a screen, vastly increases the chances of knowing when a theft is about to occur. Others sensors are used to check weather and actually monitor the shrimp in their environment, tasks which weren’t feasible for individual companies in the past to perform cost effectively.
The key here really is being able to gather more data and process it efficiently. Lower hardware costs, better algorithms and a variety of programmable sensors enable the capture and examination of this data in a way that can be customized for individual companies. Data can be very powerful for most organizations that perform actions in the analog world. IoT is helping them learn to better understand data they they wouldn’t previously have been able to capture.
There are certainly still potential security problems with off the shelf sensors and grid connections. Anyone that wants to start to use these types of devices needs to understand the networking and potentially limit access to your main databases and systems, perhaps with tightly controlled ETL processes to funnel the data to staging areas. If you can do that, however, there are going to be opportunities to increase the efficiency of your operations, with plenty of data analysis and visualization jobs for the data professionals.