Posted by James Bostock

Posted 7 July, 2015 OBI BLOG

1 galleryThe internet is something we as people have connected to since the early 1990s, and something that more and more devices have been connecting to as time goes on. Radio frequency devices are something Swedish company, BioNyfiken, have been developing which offers short distance connections to, for instance, ‘ping’ business card details digitally to an acquaintance’s mobile with literally the flick of a wrist via a microchip the size of a grain of sand. Other interesting applications of this ‘microchip’ by BioNyfiken include turning your car on, or being accepted on public transport. These chips are becoming a digital identification, which the company is using more widely under the term the ‘Internet of Things’.


This concept describes how ‘smart’ devices connect objects automatically to the internet, and how this will become synonymous with everyday life. These chips, if applied to humans, perhaps pets with collars, or home appliances would have the ability to all communicate with each other, providing billions, even trillions of connections.


The obvious advantage would be to automate mundane functions, allowing us to manage our lives better – heating and cooling the house, switching appliances on and off, security, lighting, pet feeders and pet access. No more emergency dashes home from work!


This, in theory, can be translated to industry, and more specifically property, providing greater efficiency and productivity in what we do. Better intelligence on and control over what tenants use could have a major impact on service charges, say. Locations that lack the high speed digital connectivity required could see demand plummet. The more tech-enabled the space, the more desirable it is.


Companies across the globe spent $20 billion in 2012 on technologies linked to the ‘industrial internet of things’. This is projected to exceed $500 billion by 2020. Chancellor George Osborne allocated £40 million in the latest Budget to the concept.


But there is a remarkable deficiency of progress within the property sector. There’s a lack of understanding about the benefits, and progress is also hampered by ‘well we’ve always done it this way’ tradition and various outdated regulatory environments. There’s also a lack of industry standards – at present an app developed by one company to control heating won’t necessary ‘talk’ to another company’s system that’s controlling the lights.


2 galleryIt is an ‘unknown’ and talk of ‘cyber’ activity usually leads to thoughts of criminal activity and security breaches. But, a lack of understanding of how the world is evolving could result in necessary defensive moves being forgone as the door is unknowingly opened to competitors.


Let me explain, Google started as a search engine company, but now it is at the forefront of shattering technological boundaries, such as testing the first driverless cars, and it is doing this by its success at beaming internet connections to far corners of the globe.


Companies that do embrace ‘industrial internet of things’ could channel Google’s entrepreneurial spirit. For instance, a company develops a product that increases efficiency by 10%, so why not sell the product to other companies inside or outside of their sector? Can it be adapted to other industries where the product can be developed further? ‘Industrial internet of things’ is not solely about money-saving objectives, but about how much companies are willing to innovate.


Can the ‘industrial internet of things’ be introduced into the workforce? Of course it can. If employees can receive detailed feedback from their customers about how they performed, they can make adjustments accordingly. It is a technique used by the internet currently, not by consumers completing feedback forms, but how clicks of a mouse collate a digital profile. Imagine this within property; the background research on potential clients could be completed via products linked to ‘industrial internet of things’ and available with the expenditure of that valuable commodity of time.


The ‘internet of things’ is not a distant reality, but is already here. An estimate by Gartner recently suggest in 2020, 25 billion devices will be connected to the internet. A separate estimate by Cisco estimates 99.5 percent of connectable devices are currently offline.


The power of smart industrial systems will only increase as artificial intelligence (AI) advances and becomes cleverer. The ability of technology to ‘learn’ from past data and predict future trends, patterns or outcomes is increasingly formidable. The longer industrial AI is exposed to the real world, the smarter it gets. Connecting your company sooner rather than later would appear to be a sensible goal.