So far in 2014, the Internet of Things looks to be beating off competition from big data to be the tech and marketing industry’s favourite buzzword. As with its predecessor, the concept’s ubiquity can reduce it to a kind of meaningless white noise, but the reality is that this development could mean major changes for many industries as it continues to expand.

Fundamentally, the idea is that analogue devices such as cars and ovens – as well as more complex tools such as those used in the oil and gas industry – will become connected to the web, allowing them to be more responsive as well as making it easier to collate data on particular processes.

For consumers and businesses, this could offer the capability to, for instance, have locks that open via a smartphone or thermostats that are remarkably responsive to changes in the atmosphere.

This is likely to improve convenience and standards of life for many people, but it also poses a number of challenges. For one thing, companies utilising this new technology will need to be extremely confident in their cyber security – the more connected the internet becomes to the physical world, the more costly any kind of unexpected or malicious breach could be.

Additionally, marketers will need to ensure they have the right tools in place to deal with the spike in consumer information that the Internet of Things will create.

Processes such as consumer relationship management, because they automate many of the systems needed to deal with this kind of data, could enjoy a spike in popularity as more devices get connected to the web.

Yves de Montcheuil, vice-president of marketing at data management company Talend, recently told Computing: “Let’s say you’re a just-in-time manufacturer. Being able to do capacity planning based not just on historical statistics but based on the instant availability of information about the health of the manufacturing chain is extremely valuable.”

This possibility could be an extremely useful one assuming firms have the capacity to take advantage of it.