With the speed at which technology has been advancing in recent decades, almost everyone has the occasional moment where a jolt of perspective makes them look around and consider the science fiction world we now inhabit. If you took the smartphone in your pocket back in time just twenty years, it would be the most powerful supercomputer on the planet. It's more powerful than IBM's Deep Blue architecture which bested world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, and it's far more powerful than the supercomputers NASA used to put human beings on the moon. Of course, it can be hard to remain in awe of this incredible computational might while hunting Pokemon in the grocery store or playing Candy Crush on the subway.

The fact that processors and cellular technology are so cheap, small, and powerful that we can afford to carry internet-connected, GPS-enabled supercomputers in our pockets and use them for trivial entertainments is however exactly what has laid the foundation for one of the most important technological developments of our time: The Internet of Things (IoT). There are literally billions of devices connected to the internet today, trading data back and forth and harnessing analytical power in the cloud to make everyday objects smarter than we could have imagined.

A technology with unprecedented reach

At the consumer level we're already growing accustomed to IoT devices in our homes and lives, from smart thermostats to internet-connected wearables to ride-sharing services. But the most important impact of the Internet of Things may be on the world of business. “The Internet of Things is going to transform every industry in Canada,” says Ignacio Paz, General Manager, Internet of Things at Rogers Communications. “The Canadian market — no different than what is happening around the world — is facing challenging economic conditions and putting pressure on companies to find innovative ways to better compete and win. IoT can play a pivotal role in helping businesses to improve productivity and save costs.”

We live in a world today where information is functionally limitless, wireless communication is practically ubiquitous, and computational power is almost free. It's not hard to see how these three things can combine to solve all kinds of business problems very cost effectively, as well as opening up substantial new revenue streams for innovative companies. The trick is in identifying the problem or opportunity before asking if IoT is the answer. “My team and I spend a lot of time identifying the challenges that businesses are facing in select markets and then offering them differentiated solution that will help them drive a specific business outcome to tackle those challenges,” says Paz.

And the sorts of problems that IoT can effectively solve are not always the ones you would expect. Recently Rogers has helped both Boston Pizza and Compass Group Canada bring IoT technology to their kitchens, connecting the sensors in their fridges and coolers to the internet in order to both improve food safety and save valuable employee hours.

If IoT technology can be so advantageous in food service, it is difficult to imagine an industry where it wouldn't provide a benefit. It's definitely something that should be on the radar of every company that wants to remain competitive in the coming years, because the speed at which we are barelling into the science future is showing no sign of slowing. And the companies that are successful tomorrow will inevitably be the ones that are innovative today.