Inexpensive computing hardware combined with smart algorithms now allow us to automate more of the world around us. Automation not only drives efficiency; it can also remove repetitive, banal tasks that frankly hijack too much time from owners/managers. As society moves toward ubiquitous connectivity, what are the implications for you and your business?

The IoT (or Internet of Things) simply refers to the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other objects embedded with sensors and network connectivity that enable these items to collect and exchange data. If you look at the sheer numbers alone it is clear that IoT is driving business transformation. According to Gartner there are 8.4 billion connected things among us this year (up 31 percent from last year), and there will be an estimated 20.4 billion by 2020. So how should you participate or play in this space?

Fundamentally speaking, connecting people to things and machines to machines (M2M) is a reality we should all be thinking about. We all know about home automation systems and smart appliances, but how should we begin to translate these technologies to our own businesses--large or small.

What You Can Do Now

We all know smart devices like Nest thermostats and appliances with virtual assists (Amazon Echo with Alexa), or smart camera systems like Withings Home. Beyond that an easy point of entry from the perspective of security (for home or business) are products created by August with a product line including smart locks that integrate with ADT and Honeywell's Total Connect App, as well as door bell cam and smart key pad. As someone to suffered two office break in's in NYC, this technology is essential.

From the standpoint of connectivity, right now small businesses can take advantage of mobile data and an IoT price break from LA-based wireless Internet and mobile virtual network operator, Freedom Pop.

As a small business owner, with a distributed team and client base, I relied on LogMeIn products and services for our remote access and conferencing needs. Telepresence robots are the opposite extreme. For the handsome price of $4390, Suitable Technology will bring your favorite remote employees to the office. Annual subscription fees range from $79 to $395.

The S13 speaker by Sonos is a must have for any home or office, and this new product will be announced as early as next month.

Hosting clients, prospects or other high profile guests? Interactive touch wall (from SpinTouch, Planar or U-Touch) might be what you're looking for from a dramatically heightened customer experience. IBM's works with Oblong for the IBM Watson Experience Center in Astor Place, New York City.

For those dealing with factories or managing supply chains, Zebra offers real-time visibility into everything from products and physical assets to people, giving physical things a digital voice. This is really what the IoT is all about.

For designers, developers, makers or those who want to get more hands on and active in the IoT space the starter kits or product suites from AT&T and Microsoft are solid points of entry.

In the future consumer internet services will be accessed more through the IoT than through desktop computers or mobile devices so the time to start thinking about integration and implications to your business is now. The focal ecosystems will be oriented around auto, home and our business and ability to create seamless experiences between each of this areas is where human-centric design models will come in.

What are you doing within your own organization to prep for the IoT of tomorrow, today?