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The Internet of Things: A Brief Research Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jul 25th, 2021

Definition

A wide-ranging notion of the Internet of Things (abbreviated as the IoT) is associated with the idea that there are specific devices that are “talking” to each other to accomplish a common goal of either personal or corporate character (Boyes, Hallaq, Cunningham, & Watson, 2018). Therefore, the majority of IoT programs are made of interconnected devices that are expected to be combined by either end-users or corporate technical experts into automated systems that pursue different goals ranging from building a smart home to reducing production costs on large scales. Following the ideas shared by Boyes et al. (2018), the key benefit of the IoT systems is the ability to collect information automatically and create actions intended to support specific actions, such as machine learning.

It was owing to the development of the IoT that smart mirrors and other numerous inventions appeared that focused on the utilization of available data and networking opportunities. The definition of the IoT would not exist without the concept of communication among numerous IoT networks either (Boyes et al., 2018). The idea behind such a hypothesis is that the IoT itself brings some IoT networks together and allows for the development of an interconnected world where operations are performed quicker, production costs are reduced, and more customers are kept contented.

A Real-Life Example of IoT Application

One of the best real-life examples of a company that successfully adopted the IoT and made the best use of it is DHL. Not so long ago, the company has introduced real-time sensors that could help logistics businesses monitor their supply chains instantaneously. Ultimately, DHL contributed to the development of the digital “twins” that stood for a virtual display of available physical assets and tended to update respectively when the asset itself changed (Magruk, 2016).

According to the evidence obtained by DHL and shared by Magruk (2016), the use of IoT initiatives would lead to improved global supply chains while also potentially allowing logistics companies to use even more technologies in an interconnected fashion. One of the most probable future inventions is the elaboration of sensors that will respond to contamination or damage taken by containers, with the ability to monitor container status in real-time.

DHL also mentioned that the overall cost could be one of the potential issues with the implementation of surplus IoT initiatives (Ranjan & Read, 2017). The perfect representation of physical assets presupposes a certain level of difficulty when it comes to gathering and processing data on available physical assets. The lack of expertise among staff members could also become an obstacle to the implementation of IoT, but the experience of DHL shows that the market is going to continue to grow. Interoperability, subsequently, will become the cornerstone of logistics that is supported by the issues of cybersecurity and intellectual property protection (Magruk, 2016).

The digital “twins” are going to be developed by DHL further, as this IoT technology means commercial success and innovation for the logistics mogul, where the operational costs will be driven down via technology.

The capabilities of logistics companies when it comes to monitoring and tracking essential data are currently tending to zero in terms of their effectiveness. This hints at the fact that the traditional supply chains will be transformed by the utilization of the IoT due to a different approach to organizational assets (Ranjan & Read, 2017). With data-driven decisions at hand, DHL is going to foster collaboration and streamline its operations, paving the way for even more IoT-related solutions. New business models are going to be developed within logistics to facilitate company-consumer relationships and allow for a joint exploration of IoT opportunities (Magruk, 2016). The popularity of IoT is going to promote the use of artificial intelligence and smart visualization, implementing IoT in logistics a much more attractive prospect than before.

Benefits of IoT for Organizations

Most importantly, the implementation of IoT creates opportunities for companies to improve workplace safety and build the basis for continuous improvement (Haddud, DeSouza, Khare, & Lee, 2017). The idea is that organizations have to develop secure solutions and keep up with the latest IoT updates to make a step toward a revolution in terms of how security concerns are being identified and managed. In a sense, this requires companies to advocate for the implementation of IoT if the company itself is willing to utilize related business solutions (Elijah, Rahman, Orikumhi, Leow, & Hindia, 2018).

The advent of sensors and wearables that bring interconnectedness to the business environment increases the risks related to data collection and processing but creates more room for corporate maneuvers such as data mining and real-time communication. At the same time, IoT could be used by organizations as a means of protecting the physical and logical assets of the company and develop a centralized digital shield intended to store all information safely.

The biggest advantage, nevertheless, is the ability of organizations to drive down operating costs and develop a working environment where the latest innovations are used for the common benefit. For example, many companies turn to IoT and artificial intelligence because these provide them with a never-before-seen level of sustainability (Haddud et al., 2017). The majority of smart advantages would be unavailable to companies in the case where they would not collect operational insights and review different scenarios related to data collection and usage.

The operational costs, in turn, would be reduced with the help of real-time data analysis, as the latter would allow for an improved view of the products or services provided by the company and consumers’ responses (Elijah et al., 2018). While reducing downtime and tracking available assets and equipment, organizations might be able to predict future errors or successes through IoT devices. The application of smart systems also contributes to the reduction of energy expenditures and redundant electrical systems that decrease the overall business efficiency.

Benefits of IoT for End Users

When it comes to the benefits of IoT for consumers, the first advantage that can be mentioned is the incredibly increased level of convenience compared to what consumers could do with available technologies a decade ago (Hoffman & Novak, 2018). Consumer homes with IoT capabilities, for example, are collecting that given consumer’s preferences and develop automation intended to leave the consumer contented (turn on the lights at a preset time, start the TV or a music player with the help of one’s voice, and many other options that the IoT brings to consumers). As for the relationship between consumers and providers, smart capabilities could help the customer renew their subscription automatically and watch over almost any kind of schedule to prevent the consumer from being late with an important payment or a deposit (Hoffman & Novak, 2018).

Some companies even allowing their consumers to order food with the help of a refrigerator that notifies them of running out of certain products. The companies that offer smart home capabilities also make sure that preventive maintenance is completed promptly to keep the whole system intact.

Therefore, another benefit of the IoT for consumers is the increased level of security that they get when going headfirst into the world of interconnected devices that collect and send out immense arrays of information almost every second.

Even though many consumers tend to overlook the importance of protective measures (even when it comes to their smart homes, for instance), the IoT trends show that user authorization, encryption, and verification are becoming safer regardless of how complex the system is (Hoffman & Novak, 2018). Automated protection became an important asset for both consumers and organizations because it can learn patterns and identify threats based on the previously recognized samples. The end users have a chance to experience services of immaculate quality without either leaving the comfort of their home or exposing themselves to specific cyber threats, meaning that the advantages of IoT outweigh the downsides for them.

Most Prominent IoT Challenges

Challenges for Organizations

The first challenge that organizations might encounter when trying to make the best use of the IoT is the inability to prevent or even predict attacks that are going to occur (Stojkoska & Trivodaliev, 2017). Nowadays, cybercriminals are residing on the edge of technological progress, making it hard for companies to identify security threats and respond to the related risks effectively. With criminals becoming more proactive than businesses, the latter are exposing themselves to an increased number of vulnerabilities that contribute to the advent of even more security threats (Stojkoska & Trivodaliev, 2017).

The lack of expertise does not allow technical staff to fix the issues in time. Accordingly, the challenge of identifying and predicting cyber-attacks is long-term by nature, as it is much harder to maintain security among interconnected devices. The popularity of cloud services and artificial intelligence analytics makes companies vulnerable to external attacks while also exposing businesses to numerous additional costs that cannot be ignored.

Another challenge for companies is the complexity of data management under the condition where autonomous IoT systems are involved (Stojkoska & Trivodaliev, 2017). From the point of view of networking and data gathering procedures, the amount of information collected from interconnected systems is going to overflow every buffer within organizations’ systems, leading to confusion and data leaks.

This issue is going to be hard to handle because the majority of automated processes linked to the use of artificial intelligence require an exceptional level of expertise from the IoT admins. To bring more efficiency to the table, the companies will have to invest in traffic pattern detection and build upon networking opportunities (Stojkoska & Trivodaliev, 2017). The risk that comes together with the opportunity to handle vast arrays of data is directly proportionate to the time and effort that companies will have to invest to evade misconfiguration, outages, and data loss.

Challenges for Consumers

For consumers, the concept of IoT is also a challenge due to the lack of knowledge regarding what are ransomware or malware and how to deal with them efficiently (Stojkoska & Trivodaliev, 2017). Given that the IoT is developing at a rather high pace, it is logical that cybercriminals already have access to the latest cyberattack instruments that can help them catch consumers unprepared. Cybercriminals easily infiltrate into the consumers’ devices and steal all the data, sometimes even locking them out of their devices. As Stojkoska and Trivodaliev (2017) explain, within the IoT network with no necessary protection measures, cybercriminals would quickly gain access to confidential information with the help of an IoT-supported camera. This would ultimately lead to the attackers encrypting the most confidential information and asking the consumers to pay a ransom for recovery.

On the other hand, consumers are currently making the best use of IoT technologies when building smart homes and increasing the level of interconnectedness among numerous devices (Stojkoska & Trivodaliev, 2017). The exposure to technologies makes it easier for consumers to communicate with their house, while also uncovering them to the devastating hacker attacks that can deteriorate the benefits of home automation.

IoT security measures are still a challenge for the majority of consumers because they tend to ignore the biggest threats until they get attacked first-hand (Stojkoska & Trivodaliev, 2017). If a cybercriminal gains access to a personal IP address, they might also discover that person’s contact details and residential address, creating a scenario where the consumer is going to be cornered, with the only exit being to pay the ransom with no guarantee that the criminal is not going to use stolen information for evil purposes in the future.

Conclusion

The future of the Internet of Things looks rather bright, especially given the fact that the increasing amount of data can be gathered from a variety of devices. It brings the importance of other technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to the forefront of business proceedings. Ultimately, the advantages of the Internet of Things outweigh the disadvantages, with several exceptions to be made when it comes to data security and protection. The case of DHL, a large logistics organization that carefully approaches the value of innovative technologies for its future, shows that the opportunities of applying the Internet of Things to real-life scenarios are practically limitless.

References

Boyes, H., Hallaq, B., Cunningham, J., & Watson, T. (2018). The industrial internet of things (IIoT): An analysis framework. Computers in Industry, 101, 1-12.

Elijah, O., Rahman, T. A., Orikumhi, I., Leow, C. Y., & Hindia, M. N. (2018). An overview of Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics in agriculture: Benefits and challenges. IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 5(5), 3758-3773.

Haddud, A., DeSouza, A. R., Khare, A., & Lee, H. (2017). Examining potential benefits and challenges associated with the Internet of Things integration in supply chains. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 28(8), 1055-1085.

Hoffman, D. L., & Novak, T. P. (2018). Consumer and object experience in the internet of things: An assemblage theory approach. Journal of Consumer Research, 44(6), 1178-1204.

Magruk, A. (2016). The Internet of things as the future technological trend of the innovative development of logistics. Research in Logistics & Production, 6, 16-24.

Ranjan, K. R., & Read, S. (2017). The six faces of value co-creation: A field guide for executives. Rutgers Business Review, 2(1), 23-31.

Stojkoska, B. L. R., & Trivodaliev, K. V. (2017). A review of Internet of Things for smart home: Challenges and solutions. Journal of Cleaner Production, 140, 1454-1464.

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