The Internet of Things Connects the EnterpriseBy Samuel Greengard Print
The Internet of things is here, and IT must understand how to deploy the IoT effectively in order to prepare for the next phase of enterprise connectivity.
Putting the IT in the IoT
The Internet of things is evolving rapidly, and IT organizations are on the front lines of change. Forrester's Gillet says that one of the biggest challenges revolves around integration.
"Business leaders are now looking to purchase products and assets that have identity capabilities, sensors and connectivity built in," he explains. "Too often, they wind up using these technologies in an isolated fashion."
While this approach usually delivers incremental gains, it can undermine bigger improvements that span internal business processes, supply chains and customer interactions. This may lead to new partnerships, APIs and revenue models.
Part of the task involves rethinking and remapping networks to accommodate big data and non-traditional forms of data—both structured and unstructured. The IoT can alter network requirements as data streams in from different sources and applications.
Within this real-time business framework, customers and partners are less tolerant of disruptions, interruptions and poor performance. The upshot? There's a growing need to address network resiliency, along with issues such as data storage, routing methods, bandwidth and compute resources, and wireless technologies and protocols.
There are also emerging security and privacy concerns related to connected devices and the data passing across company boundaries. Enterprises must ensure that various machines and devices are protected from hacks, data is encrypted at all times, and databases and other systems remain secure.
"The Internet of things introduces new risks and new dangers," Gillet warns. "It creates new ways for bad guys to steal information and for employees to inadvertently expose intellectual property and other assets." In some cases, these risks could extend to public safety.
Finally, PwC's Lamano suggests that IT executives focus on industry standards and moving forward with the skills necessary to navigate digital transformation. Because the IoT is still in the nascent stages, it's crucial to build an IT framework and infrastructure that doesn't head down a technology dead end.
"IT organizations can't be afraid to work with this new technology," he says. "They cannot be resistant to it." In addition, enterprises must develop the skills necessary for building out connected devices and putting the IoT to work. This includes new types of data scientists and other individuals who understand the conceptual framework for future business and IT.
Lamano recommends that organizations pilot and test connected devices and technologies across a wide swath of areas. This might include systems that monitor machine performance and predict failures, as well as those that embed connected sensors in clothing or on perishable food packages.
It might mean tagging farm animals so they can be tracked through their lifecycle or developing health care devices that transmit real-time data about a person's condition. Within this emerging connected world, milk cartons, roads, vehicles, trees, industrial machines, medical devices and power systems all become data points.
"The IoT will redefine many industries in the years ahead," Lamano predicts. "Business and IT leaders must begin to understand the technology and the ways to deploy it effectively."
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