The Internet of Things (IoT) is a new interconnection of technology. It is being heralded as the next industrial revolution. What does this imply? Only radical change, disruption, and a brand new paradigm for the planet. Nothing too intense, right? The Internet of Things is an extension of existing connections. These connections are between people and computers to include digitally-connected “things”.
These things measure and report data. This data can be simple numbers from a stationary or mobile sensor (such as a temperature sensor). It could also be more complex findings from devices that measure and report many data streams at a time. These advanced devices can even actuate or effect data they’re measuring. A good example of this would be a connected thermostat.
The IoT is advancing exponentially. Some even say we’re in the “knee of the curve”. This describes the point where advancement happens very fast. Such speed means that its potential uses are beyond the reach of speculation. Even so, many organizations hesitate to experiment and invest in IoT technology. Here are the three parts of the IoT we’ll discuss.
- IoT threats
- IoT benefits
- The path to realizing the potential IoT brings
Internet of Things Threats
Threat 1: Security and Privacy
If you’ve paid attention to major technology news stories, you’ve heard a lot of scary things.
- The hacking of companies
- Stolen Identities
- The hijacking of app-connected cars
These events are all enough to cause some serious anxiety. You can understand how digitally-connected things have definite security risks. Often, default device settings equate to “wide open”. Many organizations don’t have strong security protocols in place. This is even when access controls are present. This is the IoT equivalent of having a username/password combo of “admin” and “password”.
Even if you’re savvy enough to configure the connected device the right way, other gaps exist. Connected device manufacturers are often slow to update firmware or release patches. These companies may not provide support at all. Instead, they prefer to resolve security issues with the next version of the “thing”. So, security and privacy on your network of things has to be your responsibility. This may seem unfair as you are the user implementing the tech.
Threat 2: Data and Complexity
The IoT generates countless bytes of data. But that isn’t how businesses measure its value. They look at the analysis of trends and patterns. For example, say you have a single sensor reporting one of ten possible values every week. In one year, you’d collect 52 points of data. But, the number of possible combinations of those 52 points is 1 x 1052. Want some perspective? The estimation of the number of atoms on the entire planet is 1 x 1050, which is 100 times fewer.
Now, imagine the data complexity when thousands of sensors collecting data. The sensors do this each hour across a single organization. You need a plan to process and analyze these huge quantities of data. Then you can translate these findings into better business practices.
Threat 3: Business and IT Buy-in
Persuading stakeholders to buy into the IoT can be difficult. Concerns about security and complexity can be intense. There are other factors holding back progress as well. The perceived costs and risks to laying a foundation are considerations. Even running a single experiment can get in the way of stakeholder buy-in. There are plenty of consumer-focused, cloud-managed IoT products out there. But they do little to comfort those looking to introduce an IoT strategy to their enterprise.
Internet of Things Benefits
In short, the scale of change that IoT technology offers can be scary. At the same time, the benefits of a well-executed IoT strategy can be a “Holy Grail” for an organization:
Benefit 1: Safety, Comfort, Efficiency
Imagine measuring and managing hazardous environments while juggling many factors. You must do this without putting people at risk. And don’t forget to optimize all physical environments for comfort and productivity. Also, you better control those energy costs. Now imagine monotonous tasks automated and done by machines. For example, smart assembly lines could report errors in real time. This produces higher yields and less downtime.
The result is more time for productive and rewarding work. This would drive higher employee satisfaction and retention, while dramatically improving profit margins.
Benefit 2: Better Decision Making
If you can analyze larger trends from empirical data, you can make smarter decisions. This takes assumptions out of the equation. Instead, it’s giving you data-backed visibility into every aspect of your business. Consider testing cycles. They would radically shorten, lowering the costs to optimize a process. Also, the visibility into system behaviors can yield new insights and ideas. This can guide your business like never before.
Benefit 3: Revenue Generation
At first, the above benefits will impact your bottom line by reducing expenses. The IoT will also help to improve efficiency. But, it’s only a matter of time before IoT data analysis helps you realize new business functions. Also, this will lead to new revenue opportunities. The IoT may be that special “X factor”. It’s uniqueness gives many organizations a strategic advantage over the competitors. This advantage will be valuable to companies now and into the next decade.
2 Keys to Begin Using the Internet of Things
Knowing the risks and benefits of the IoT is important for any company wanting to enter that arena. Now that you have this knowledge, what can you do with it? How can you help your organization take advantage of the Internet of Things? And how can you avoid excessive risk?
A small project is most likely to gain buy-in and succeed. Save the unexplored potential of long-term interconnected devices for later. A natural starting place is to take steps toward making your workplace a “Smart Office”. What does this include?
- Automated conference room reservations and management
- Digital asset tracking of equipment or parts
- Monitoring energy or water consumption and then optimizing usage
Assemble the right team
The right time will need the right skills and attitudes. You will need some technological expertise. You will also need some forward-thinkers. These guys will have tons of excitement about bringing innovation into your organization. You’ll need to make it through three primary phases:
- Build a business case and kick off a project
- Select, analyze, and rank IoT Tech for the project
- Plan, execute, and support
Atlantic BT would love to help you along the way. We have a large, dedicated CyberSecurity team ready and able to prepare you for the future.