The Internet of Things (IoT)—Manufacturers Making the Connections

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Not long ago, the Internet of Things (IoT) was more of a topic for science fiction novels or forward-thinking product and technology gurus relegated to corporate and university research labs. In just a few short years since its introduction in 2009 by Kevin Ashton in the RFID Journal, the IoT has become more than a hot, mainstream topic, making it to the top of the news. In fact, it is projected to have one of the largest global economic impacts in the coming decades.

Up until recently, the Internet had been primarily the domain of people. People have had to log into the Internet to search for information, products, or services. People would then communicate over the Internet to check out a product, resolve an issue with the product, and get the services required from a manufacturer to fix a problem. The term “smart, connected devices” is still classified by some as the market made up of desktop PCs, portable PCs, tablets, and smartphones. And like the Internet, this segment of smart, connected devices relies on a person to operate them.

Today manufacturers of products—from automobiles, to home automation systems, large industrial machines, and home appliances—are Internet enabling their products. The term smart, connected product is now used to describe any product that can connect over the Internet. Having all these things communicating over the Internet is opening up new opportunities for manufacturers and even radically changing the way manufacturers sell and service their products. The IoT is also creating entirely new business models; for example, a manufacturer may not sell the product to a consumer but sell only the usage of the product.

The challenge for manufacturers is to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that the IoT presents. With few tools and solutions available, many manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to build their own software that communicates, in real time, with the IoT devices.

However, there are now a few options to help manufacturers meet their broad range of challenges and take advantage of the new business opportunities that the IoT presents. For example, PTC, a provider of computer aided design (CAD), product lifecycle management (PLM), service lifecycle management (SLM) solutions, recently acquired ThingWorx, a platform designed to build and run the applications of the connected world. Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) recently took an in-depth look at PTC and how the addition of the ThingWorx platform can help manufacturers respond to the latest forces impacting the industry. Take a look at this in-depth product spotlight report.
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