Learning IOT: What is it? How to use it? When to use it?

Recently I have been mentored by a great guy who also owns an IOT business.  He has offered a free class where I live on Saturdays to learn about the basics of IOT.  In addition he has been explaining how IOT can be used to solve specific problems in industrial settings.  I already had an electronic and software background so learning IOT was not a major stretch.  The biggest stretch is understanding when and how to use IOT.

So what is it?  Its all about sensors and data.  You have sensors collect data that improves your decision making processes or automates something.  It can reduce human errors, reduce human labor, or see something previously unseen.  It is about solving problems using technology.

How to use it?  Define a problem, find a way to solve the problem using technology, build a solution to the problem, and repeat.

When to use it?  When the problem being solved can create value to the end user and continue to generate value beyond the install for years.  That value also needs to be more than just saving labor costs.  It needs to save on ‘lost opportunity’ costs.  In other words, the problem solved provided a higher level savings than just labor.  If the labor can be redirected to a more profitable avenue and/or a process can have more uptime.  Those savings can potentially save millions of dollars versus thousands of dollars over the years.

From what I now understand IOT is here to stay.  What will it look like and who will benefit from this paradigm shift in technology?  Sensors are cheap, but they are not cheap to install and maintain.  What data systems are needed?  Will that data system be proprietary or open?  Is it secure from outside hacking?  Are there enough experts out there to support the potential needs of end users?  Will it be dominated by data giants like AWS and Microsoft?  I hope to learn the answers to all these questions as I dig deeper and deeper into IOT.