In the eyes of hopeful futurists, the Internet of Things is now just around the corner. By 2020, the number of devices that communicate via the Internet is projected to explode to around 50 billion, up from the approximately 10 billion today, and that trend is giving rise to new devices and business processes that incorporate sensors and chips for remote monitoring or control.
In enterprises, the Internet of Things is expected to drive greater efficiency, faster business decisions and better customer interactions through real-time visibility into the identification, location and condition of products, assets and transactions. More complex networks will act like nervous systems—not only sensing external threats, but also responding autonomously.
But as more and more enterprises rush to implement IoT solutions—facilitated primarily by the proliferation of cheap sensors and chips, the lower cost of network-enabled hardware, and the ubiquity of wireless internet—they may be overlooking the new challenges and skill sets required for this new technology.
Here are three suggestions for IT professionals looking to implement an IoT strategy.
1. Beef Up Security
Enterprise IoT strategies must have a strong security foundation that examine the entire system holistically—from data acquisition, to governance of the entire infrastructure.
For example, if your IoT strategy touches on the supply chain, it is likely that sensors will be collecting data from devices outside of your organization's IT security perimeter—and outside of the corporate firewall. Now think about what route the data takes to get back to your organization. Placing sensitive data in insecure places —even in the interim—can lead to a security breach.
So before rushing out to deploy an IoT application, make sure your security plans are bullet proof.
2. Pin Down Your Big Data Strategy
Big data and the Internet of Things go hand-in-hand. Why? Just consider what sensors do: they collect rich data about the physical world. So much that when the IoT is in full swing, it will produce data in an order of magnitutude for which there is not yet a word to describe.
What is your strategy to harness and distill insights from this data? And how will it impact the rest of the organization's goals? How do you plan to distill the data into higher-level analytics that your everyday non-technical executive can derive insights from? These are all questions that need to be answered.
3. Brush Up Your Skill Set
Innovative companies will harness the opportunities of the IoT and reap a competitive advantage. So ensure that you and your organization stays abreast of the latest in sensor networks, cloud computing, security, big data and machine learning. Any other approach is a short-sighted risk.