Retail and the Internet of Things

Sometimes, it may seem as though it is impossible to get away from all the connected devices we own, but believe it or not just 1% of the physical world is currently connected to the internet. Be prepared for this to change very quickly as by 2020 experts are predicting that we will have seen the start of what some are calling the biggest shift in retail since the advent of mobile.

It is called the Internet of Things and according to Steve Olenski in a recent Forbes article it is projected to grow at a rate 270% higher than mobile in under six years.

Put simply, the Internet of Things means that common household items which don’t currently have the ability to send and receive data, for example your front door, your refrigerator or your toaster are connected to the internet and to each other. Imagine any product having its own digital profile, like a medicine bottle that reminds you when to take it and gives you personalised advice on how to manage your illness, or a washing machine that not only knows it is in need of repair, but can recommend a trusted local repair company to do the work.

It isn’t as remote a concept as you may think. Back in January, Google purchased the Nest smart thermostat company and just this week US networking giant Cisco gave $7 million worth of funding to UK Internet of Things startup Evrything. With technology giants like this behind the Internet of Things, it is surely only a matter of time before these low rumbles become an avalanche that will shake up the sector.

"The internet of things will affect every aspect of business operations and customer experience," says Niall Murphy, the company's co-founder and CEO of Evrything. "The investment allows us to accelerate our mission to connect every individual product to the web with its own intelligent online identity, working with global product manufacturer and retail brands."

Cisco itself has estimated that the Internet of Things will contain 50 billion objects by 2020, and lead to a market worth £11.2 trillion. Even a more conservative estimate from technology firm Gartner predicts that the market will include 26 billion units in 2020, still almost a 30-fold increase.

So watch this space, before your bedside lamp reminds you to…

Sophie MacIntyre

Friday, 2 May 2014 at 1:40pm

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