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The age of the Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us, and industry is adapting quickly to the ways this network of sensor-equipped devices is changing how the stuff of life is created, transported and consumed.

Considered the fourth industrial revolution, after steam, electricity and electronics, the IoT refers to the 50 billion objects projected to be connected to the internet by 2020 — each of them able to transmit, collect and analyze information.

In 2015, only 13% of people had even heard of IoT. Today at SAIT, registration is open for an IoT workshop designed to help business leaders make the most of opportunities arising from this sweeping industrial transformation.

Already, we have curtains closing at sundown and thermostats turning down the heat at bedtime. Soon, your fridge will generate a weekly meal plan, order the corresponding groceries and even help you lose five pounds before a beach vacation.

Most importantly, your future fridge will transmit data for interpretation. It will learn to better predict your needs based on the behaviour of every household using the same fridge software. Replace the fridge in this scenario with just about every other machine in the world and you have IoT, which may also be referred to as the internet of everything or - in relation to industry - the industrial internet of things (IIoT) or industry 4.0.

SAIT's first classroom offering on IoT

Michael Magee, PhD and Interim Multimedia Coordinator for the Centre for Instructional Technology and Development, leads the one-day workshop, Industrial Internet of Things Overview, which looks at where IoT is taking industry and how organizations can position themselves to use smart technologies.

"The workshop will help increase IoT awareness in your company and provide a foundation for a strong business case for IoT adoption," says Magee. "Every industry in the world is thinking about it — every organization needs an IoT strategy."

Profit 4.0

New opportunities will arise through the adoption of IoT and these opportunities could make a big difference to the bottom line — especially during leaner years.

"During a downturn, industry is very interested in ways to run safely and efficiently while still making a profit," says Magee.

General Electric predicts the IoT will add $10 to $15 trillion to the US GDP by 2025. While industries relating to manufacturing and information technology are likely to evolve the fastest under IoT command, there is money to be made — or saved — in every sector.

Looking forward for our students

Offering a workshop in IIoT is just one aspect of a much larger plan. Elka Walsh, Director of Institutional Planning and Analysis, says SAIT is prepared for the next step in industrial evolution.

"Thanks to our close relationship with industry, IIoT has been front and centre as a planning topic," says Walsh. "We've heard how industry needs post-secondary and applied learning to adapt and we understand how our students will be successful in the new world."

Walsh will travel to France at the end of March to present at the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education conference to share her expertise in her session Academic Planning, New Programs, Industry Partners and the Fourth Industrial Revolution - One Institution's Experience Innovating for More Student Success.

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