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By Tom Brodley

How the Internet of Things affects web development

If you haven't heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), you will. The same technology used in smart devices can be used in any electrical device, so we are getting new levels of interaction that are beginning to transform the digital landscape. Let's take a look at what the IoT is and the changes it could mean for online business.

What is the IoT?
The Internet of Things is the growing network of connected devices. Not just computers, smart phones and tablets, but vehicles, buildings, household appliances and much more. All of these can be engineered with Wi-Fi and sensors for collecting data. The IoT allows objects to be managed through remote access. Connectivity apps can start laundry or turn on the AC from miles away. Most new products will have this technology over the next two decades, creating a global network of billions of machines.

How does the IoT affect web business?
This new generation of devices fits with "buzz" concepts like the "cloud" and "big data." Information captured by products will create a mountain of data that can be sifted for insights into improved efficiency, performance, and customer satisfaction. Product reviews will be generated automatically, aggregated and graded according to predetermined factors.

Websites must keep up with this trend of integration and information to satisfy the demand from consumers. Websites that don't incorporate cloud computing, data manipulation, and device responsiveness will be left behind. Increased capacity, security, and network connectivity and monitoring must be maintained to take advantage of this wave of information and feedback.

Impact on future digital activity
Almost anything electrical will be able to connect to the Internet. This includes not just at-home conveniences like thermostats, but industrial machinery, vehicles, and perhaps everything right down to the garbage can. This will take a bite out of bandwidths, as well as network storage. This vastly expanded network will also be more vulnerable. Someone hacking into a washing machine may not be too frightening, but hacking into WiFi-enabled vehicles is already happening. Anti-virus programs and firewalls will become basic home design as computing includes everything from bulldozers to coffee makers. Safeguarding all this will require more comprehensive security measures, including user credentialing (such as a fingerprint scanner to operate a dishwasher) and additional encryption steps for all transmitted data.

How the IoT impacts future web development
With our possessions exchanging sales and user data online, website development has to be able to accommodate this rising need for security, information gathering, and responsiveness to not just smart phones, but everything. Websites will have to be able to interact with these products and apps to stay competitive. Not just humans, but smart devices, may be trying to access a site and request information or software access. Users will expect their stoves to interact with the site where it was purchased, and even be able to search, download, and display recipes. Marketing strategies will have to reflect the new Internet of Things.

As the world around us becomes smarter and more connected, online business, especially, can't afford to be out of the loop.

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