By Johanne Bouchard EBS Business Columnist

In an early November column, I wrote about cloud computing, including Software as a Service and Platform as a Service. Now, as we approach 2016, it’s important to prioritize the “Internet of Things” given the fast progression of technology, and our dependency on data and devices.

IoT is basically a network of physical objects, or “things,” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity, which enable these objects to collect and exchange data. In essence, IoT turns a product that lacked any real intelligence into a “smart” product able to identify user behavior.

This is creating opportunities for enhanced integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in the potential for improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Don’t underestimate this – it’s predicted that IoT will consist of approximately 50 billion objects by 2020. We’re about to feel this powerful technology wave in the very near future.

Examples of IoT include smart light bulbs from Philips, Logitech’s smart remotes, wearable devices including the new Apple watch, and a smart thermostat by Google, among others.

I recently met a woman who started an IoT company, and one of my friends is now a CEO of an IoT business. It is the next big thing in technology that we all must understand, as it will impact us as individuals, consumers and how we lead and grow our businesses.

As a business owner you should embrace change and understand that things will be done very differently in 12-18 months from now. Do you remember how we used to rely on fax machines to conduct business, and cameras for taking photographs? Now, your customers take a photo and the network, cloud or device records where it was taken. Built-in artificial intelligence, predictive modeling and connectivity of all things are happening.

I mentioned in previous columns that my career began in data. Today, data is going to make our businesses smarter than ever and we’re going to leverage the value of data like never before. IoT will function with cloud-based computing for us to know everything about what we come in contact with.

IoT will be revolutionary for smart homes, clothes, transportation, energy usage, smart retail and healthcare. Imagine the benefits of a smart infant monitor providing parents with real-time information about their baby’s breathing, skin temperature and body position. Or the immeasurable value of prescription bottles with a wireless chip to help people be disciplined with their prescription regimen.

Envision more intelligent fitness devices at your fingertip that automatically monitor your movements, location and workouts. And there are a number of applications that we haven’t even begun thinking about.

What once seemed impossible is now within reach. Data that was once untapped can be accessed in real time. Figure out which “things” you need to have connected to scale, to control your business, and to serve your customers. I invite you to be part of the change and learn about IoT. Understand when it will be applicable for you, and how soon you, your customers and partners can benefit from it.

Johanne Bouchard, a former high-tech marketing executive, is a leadership advisor to CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs, as well as an expert in corporate board composition and dynamics. Visit to learn more or download her recently published eBooks “Board Composition” and “Board Basics.”