ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

What is the Internet of Things?

Read this Tech essentials guide to find out how the Internet of Things (IoT) can be defined and how it affects the accounting profession, including auditing. The guide also discusses real life IoT examples, management challenges as well as security concerns and future outlooks.

The role of the accountant has been shifting constantly over the past few years. The IoT is bringing a bigger shift still, but with it comes myriad opportunities. When thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT), and the 8.4bn connected devices that allow people to turn on a light switch from 3,000 miles away, it can be hard to visualise how this affects accountants. But if you look closely there are clear indications that it couldn’t not affect the profession.

Broadly, the IoT could be defined as the physical manifestation of the internet – if the cloud is its consciousness, then the billions of interconnected online devices make up its earthly being. More prosaically, the IoT is composed of every manufacturing machine, household appliance, vehicle and interactive child’s toy that can be internet enabled. The software, sensors and electronics embedded in these devices allow for interconnectivity across the network, and complete remote control – so a farmer can drive a tractor from the office, a factory foreman will be instantly informed of a glitch in a machine (see below case study example), and an accountant can adjust their home thermostat while they’re stuck at work.

Read the full report for details on what role accountants play, what management challenges they might face, overall security concerns as well as what the future may hold. The guide also provides additional case studies. 

Case study – real world IoT: John Deere

Global agriculture vehicle manufacturer John Deere has fitted tractors and combine harvesters with sensors that transmit mechanical data and allow the company to inform farmers if a component is likely to fail, around one month before the event.

These predictive framework analytics could save farms thousands by preventing unexpected periods of lost productivity.

John Deere’s newest models will also incorporate the latest in automated harvesting technology. European combines product manager Carsten Heftrig says: ‘We’ve increased the overall intelligence of these combines by automating more adjustments and calibration tasks.’

Part of the new range’s Combine Advisor package, two ActiveVision cameras give the operator a view into the tailings and clean grain elevators via the cab display. The system constantly analyses this information along with the loss sensors to maintain optimal threshing, separating and cleaning.

The new Active Yield option transforms the accuracy of yield mapping by automatically calibrating the  combine’s standard mass flow sensor. This saves time and improves harvesting performance, ensuring the most accurate data is collected.

Three weigh cells inside the grain tank automatically measure the change in weight as the tank fills, comparing it and calibrating the yield data constantly. This data can then be wirelessly transferred to the ‘operations centre’ (at myjohndeere.com). From here it can be downloaded into the farm management system and used to create a prescription map for the next job to be carried out in the field.