Future Trends in Information Systems

This chapter gives an overview of the trends in information systems. As you read, think about which of these trends may affect you the most. Are you excited for or apprehensive of any of these trends?


Internet of Things

The "Internet of Things" (IoT) refers to devices that have been embedded into a variety of objects including appliances, lamps, vehicles, lightbulbs, toys, thermostats, jet engines, etc. and then connecting them via Wi-Fi, BlueTooth, or LTE to the Internet. Principally three factors have come together to give us IoT: inexpensive processors, wireless connectivity, and a new standard for addresses on the Internet known as IPv6. The result is these small, embedded objects (things) are capable of sending and receiving data. Lights can be turned on or off remotely. Thermostats can be reset with anyone being present. And, perhaps on the downside, how you drive your car can be monitored and evaluated by your insurance company.

Processors have become both smaller and cheaper in recent years, leading to their being embedded in more devices. Consider technological advancements in your vehicles. Your car can now collect data about how fast you drive, where you go, radio stations you listen to, and your driving performance such as acceleration and braking. Insurance companies are offering discounts for the right to monitor your driving behavior. On the positive side, imagine the benefit of being informed instantly of anticipated traffic delays each time you adjust your route to work in the morning.

Think of IoT as devices that you wouldn't normally consider being connected to the Internet. And, the connection is independent of human intervention. So a PC is not an IoT, but a fitness band could be. One keyword for IoT would be "independent", not relying directly or constantly on human action.

Another keyword would be "interconnected", in the sense that IoTs are connected to other IoTs and data collection points or data servers. This interconnectedness or uploading of data is virtually automatic.

"Ubiqutous" is also a good descriptor of IoTs. And so is "embeddedness". It is reasonable to expect that devices through IoTs are reporting data about conditions and events that are not foremost in our thinking, at least not on a continuous basis. Today there are IoTs for monitoring traffic, air quality, soil moisture, bridge conditions, consumer electronics, autonomous vehicles, and the list seemingly never stops. The question that might come to mind is "How many IoTs are there today?"

The Gartner Group released a study in January 2017 which attempted to identify where IoTs exist. They reported that over half of all IoTs are installed in devices used by consumers. They also noted that growth in IoTs increased by over 30% from 2016 to the projected levels for 2017.

Benefits from IoTs are virtually everywhere. Here is a quick list.

  • Optimization of Processes. IoTs in manufacturing monitor a variety of conditions that impact production including temperature, humidity, barometric pressure – all factors which require adjustment in application of manufacturing formulas.
  • Component Monitoring. IoTs are added to components in the manufacturing process, then monitored to see how each component is performing.
  • Home Security Systems. IoTs make the challenge of monitoring activity inside and outside your home are now easier.
  • Smart Thermostats. Remote control of home thermostats through the use of IoTs allows the homeowner to be more efficient in consumption of utilities.
  • Residential Lighting. IoTs provide remote control of lighting, both interior and exterior, and at any time of day.

Security issues need to be acknowledged and resolved, preferably before IoTs in the form of remote lighting, thermostats, and security systems are installed in a residence. Here are some security concerns that need monitoring.

  • Eavesdropping. Smart speaker systems in residences have been hacked, allowing others to eavesdrop on conversations within the home.
  • Internet-connected Smart Watches. These devices are sometimes used to monitor the location of children in the family. Unfortunately, hackers have been able to breakin and again, eavesdrop as well as learn where children are located.
  • Lax Use by Owners. Devices such as smart thermometers, security systems, etc. come with a default password. Many owners fail to change the password, thereby allowing easy access by a hacker.