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How the IoT Has Ushered in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Internet of Things is critical in enabling technology for manufacturing and beyond.
By Steve Latham

If you peel away the complexity, you'll find that the IoT is just about connecting a central management platform to a large network of physical subsystems. The Internet of Things is all about processing data from the subsystems in real time, storing the data in a central warehouse and feeding it into business applications that make the data useful.

This architecture drives operational efficiencies thanks to better visibility into data health, which lets you create automation to solve manufacturing problems—turning what once would have been a critical anomaly into a mundane event. If a machine goes offline, your IoT platform can dispatch a technician to go service that machine. But that's just scratching the surface; you can extend that automation to all kinds of creative ideas that are only possible once you're connected through IoT.

What to Watch For
This much is true: the IoT is already here. After all, my company has been working on the IoT now for almost six years, and its history is actually a lot richer than that—the IoT just didn't have the benefit of an official definition or marketing term until recently.

Consider the venerable ATM. Those automated tellers are actually an effective IoT implementation, despite having been around far longer than we like to give the IoT credit for. Similarly, I've just watched very large organizations create IoT-specific disciplines within their business. We've seen job titles incorporate "IoT," while IoT platforms not unlike our own have come to life.

So what's next?

Now that industries are maturing in their pace and adoption of the IoT, expect to see more governance. Like the enhanced regulatory requirements around security for e-commerce, the IoT will become a more regulated technology, with a fair amount of evolving standards we'll all need to adhere to in order to make sure that the IoT environment is (and remains) secure.

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