The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionise the way in which we interact with technology. While connecting machines or devices to the Internet might sound arbitrary, the impact this will have on us is akin to the arrival of the Internet. By Frank Rizzo

Over the past 20 years, people have become comfortable connecting with technology. Today, the IoT represents the next wave of the Internet where the landscape will fundamentally change. Not only is more data flowing across devices, much of this is happening without human intervention. The reality is that the IoT is happening whether we embrace it or not.

Frank Rizzo_KPMGFor example, with all the information that customers give to a retailer about their habits and spending patterns, the technology will be able to make marketing decisions without needing a marketing person to make them. So the IoT will change people and back office requirements alike.

When the Internet was gaining traction, people were careful about cybersecurity and viruses. Now, things are happening automatically with the consumerisation and commoditisation of technology, meaning that the people’s understanding of security is diminishing. People however just care about devices that work and this may be at the expense of potential security implications.

With mobile devices becoming more powerful, people are able to do so much more than before. While this could lead to streamlining of industries and potential job losses, the flip side is true with opportunities being created for more innovative job functions.

The sharing of information is at the centre of this new landscape. In essence, the IoT will render personal privacy obsolete. We are all going to have to get used to less private lives. Handing over personal information will become the norm if we are able to reap the benefits of the IoT. People need to ask themselves what they are willing to sacrifice to enjoy the connected experience.

Take medical aids for example. By using a fitness tracker that links to the medical aid, the consumer is giving permission to receive benefits based on improving his or her personal health. Similarly, they could be penalised for not living healthily enough even though that is not happening (yet).

Today, we have to trust companies to use our information responsibly. It has become impossible for us to know all the places our personal data is stored, processed, and utilised. Already, notions of privacy are changing with the younger generation living on social media and posting about all aspects of their lives. Many of these notions will transfer to the corporate environment with companies needing to deal with changing expectations around data sharing.

However, with the proliferation of devices in South Africa, companies are starting to embrace elements of IoT. Already, there are so many SIMs that are being used outside of mobile phones and tablets. Think of animal tracking, technology in vehicles, sensors in refrigerators, and so on. Smart meters are being used for electricity with the next wave being water meters. This creates a massive advantage based on real-time data analytics with providers being able to control supply based on usage and other requirements.

This is certainly an exciting time. However, we need to manage some of the risks otherwise much of the human aspects could get lost. There might be a lot of hype around the IoT but there are so many great opportunities as well. The responsibility still sits with us to think, to question, to care, and to stop the IoT from potentially taking over our lives.

  • Frank Rizzo is the technology sector leader at KPMG
Share This