Today, there are more mobile devices than there are people on the planet. By 2020 it is estimated that there will be 2.5 billion connected people on social networks and they will be using or have access to 50 billion connected things.

This “hyper-connectivity,” known as the Internet of Things (IoT), will help drive $65 trillion in global trade.

We have seen IoT materialize over the past few years bringing significant changes in how people and businesses connect. The Internet has moved from a “push” network of 90’s, to one that provides peer-to-peer connections and real-time information today. This is highlighted in the hyper growth of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and LinkedIn to name but a few.

With this in mind, I recently asked “Are You Ready for the Internet of Everything?” where I discussed how IoT is effecting and hopefully improving our everyday lives (Check out How the Internet of Things is raising your IQ). To re-cap, we currently have:

  • Connected People who have devices that can check their pulse, measure  physical activity and track sleep patterns
  • Connected Homes that can adjust lights, temperatures and monitor and optimize energy consumption
  • Connected Cars that can sense when maintenance is required, find open parking spots or the nearest gas station
  • Connected Cities that can reduce pollution and street congestion and optimize energy usage

What About the Internet of Things for Your Business?

Not to be outdone business today is evolving into a Networked Economy, with millions of companies connecting their supplier, customer and partners to seamlessly engage in commerce and leveraging technologies that can connect 100’s of millions of people and things together.

But this is just the beginning, and the Internet of Things is the catalyst for hyper-connectivity in the business world. With the Internet of Things, we can monitor, analyze, and automate in ways that will greatly improve processes and create new business models by linking processes to cyber-physical systems.

Connect, Transform, and Reimagine Your Business

So what are companies doing to leverage the Internet of Things? How can you turn all of this information into business value and improve the bottom line?  How do you leverage IoT for your business?

I see it as a three-step process:

  1. Connect with billions of internet enabled things to gain new insights by combining transactional and social sentiment data, with intelligent analysis of new signals from devices and networks.
  2. Transform the way you make decisions and take action by executing operational processes through predictive and automated response all the way to the edge of the network.
  3. Re-imagine your customer’s experience by empowering innovative business models, value added services and customer responsive products.

Where Are the Opportunities?

In today’s fragmented business landscape, there are many areas where IoT can help organizations run simple. Here are a few examples:

  • Connected Manufacturing is evolving with the convergence of the classical manufacturing space with the increasing intelligence of devices and internet technologies. The emergence of machine to machine (M2M) and Internet of Things is changing the operational environment of the manufacturing firm. Data from Analysys Masonshows that today we have about 100 million M2M devices, and this is estimated to grow to out 700 million in 2023.
  • Connected Logistics are changing the way we think about and manage our networks and equipment. We can track the geo-location of any vehicle, anywhere in the world. This gives us the real-time information to track congestion, analyze traffic patterns, send notifications to reroute shipments, improve customer service and optimize the overall logistics network. With Logistics spend representing 8.2% of GDP (according to the Annual State of Logistics Report) this is obviously an area of huge potential.
  • Connected Assets are revolutionizing the preventative maintenance of devices and equipment and enable predictive maintenance. You can detect, isolate, and recover from system malfunctions using real-time fault management without having to send a technician. You could even remotely recalibrate a device or locate moving equipment. This is a huge opportunity, as while the world’s GDP is around $46.6 trillion, the value of all assets is assumed to be much higher. It is estimated that maintenance spend alone comes up to $447 billion.

Clearly, IoT is here and has endless opportunities from both a personal and business perspective.

Let me know how IoT will help your business run simple.

Follow me on twitter @howellsrichard.

This story previously appeared on SAPVoice on Forbes.
Photo: Shutterstock