Both from a personal and professional standpoint, the internet has had a major impact on almost all aspects of our daily lives. From humble beginnings, the internet has become pretty much universal.
In 1990, there were only around 300,000 computers online, and by the year 2000 this number had grown to a staggering 300 million - an amazing increase in only 10 years. By 2016, in addition to computers, over 2 billion smartphones were connected to the internet - with the rise of portable media further ingraining the internet in our everyday lives.
From a business standpoint, the internet’s enormous rise to prominence has had a massive effect on all industries. Businesses now need to consider their social media presence, with SEO becoming a whole industry to help businesses increase their digital footprint. With the internet having already had such an impact on business, what does the future hold?
The internet is a term we use synonymously with the web - but they actually refer to two distinct things. All of the media we use on a day-to-day basis - such as blogs and social networks - is actually provided thanks to the web. The internet refers to the system of connections used by the web to deliver us content.
As the web and the internet are separate entities, this means that the internet can be used to network other objects, as well as just computer systems. The future of the internet, then, is the Internet of Things (or IoT) - where everyday objects are connected together.
IoT is all about creating automation in our lives. What does this mean though? Basically, it means smarter living - kettles that know when to boil, fridges that can reorder milk when you’re running low, and even clothing that changes colour and charges your phone.
This all sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, but the Internet of Things is not some distant dream. In fact, by 2020, it is expected that 13 billion household items will be connected through IoT, and over 50% of internet traffic used in your home will be by household appliances.
The technological possibilities of such automation will have enormous consequences for businesses, both in terms of the products on sale, and how companies operate. For small businesses in particular, IoT opens up plenty of opportunities.
Companies have already been trialling driverless trucks using IoT, which can operate outside of existing time restraints. Such automation means increasingly efficient manufacturing processes, as well as higher safety standards, with IoT machines able to track movements of people and adjust as necessary.
For small businesses then, higher levels of automation means that fewer staff numbers are needed, potentially reducing costs, while increasing efficiency and productivity at the same time.
As well as the logistics of running a company on a day-to-day basis, the development of IoT also opens up numerous opportunities for small businesses to capitalise on. There is plenty of room for innovation across all industries, with IoT holding practical use for all sorts of businesses.
This level of automation is a real game-changer, and the benefits of this technology could impact our lives at every level. With IoT set to have a huge role in the near future, there are many ways for small businesses to take advantage.