January 27, 2015

IT departments may be in for big changes as countless connected devices continue to light-up the Internet of Things (IoT). A recent study conducted by Cisco suggests there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020.1 While many businesses believe the benefits gained from using this technology in the workplace outweigh the possible risks, many IT departments find themselves ill-equipped to handle those associated risks. While 71 percent acknowledge that IoT will affect both consumers and the workplace, their actions seem to speak louder than their words: more than half (59 percent) state they aren’t doing anything to prepare for impact.2

Growing security threats, greater device management challenges, and increased costs for IT management are the most pressing concerns.  Being that IT is a source of business innovation, there is also a large focus on how IoT will help CIOs communicate the strategic value of that innovation and continue aligning IT and business goals. How prepared are you to grapple with the major shifts in how data, both existing and new, will be managed?

The data technology trends we’ve seen emerge over the past few years, including BYOD, will have a dramatic effect on how IT professionals do their jobs. So, let’s take a look at what IoT is and three important areas that will require stronger IT and business integration, as this platform is continuously ushered in by the increase in connected devices.

What is the “Internet of Things”?

Internet of Things is a technology that enables the collection of sensor data from widely distributed objects such as cell phones, headphones, computers, wearable devices, and even your washing machine. Networks then carry this data to applications that combine, translate, and analyze it to produce meaningful information. IoT projects are often adopted to save money but usually require the modification, re-design, or purchase of new networks, cloud services, and data center equipment.

  1. Integrating New Technologies:

It’s crucial that IT departments determine where they are going and decide on the most strategic and cost-effective ways to get there. This requires making sure there is enough bandwidth to support the connectivity of thousands of devices and deciding whether to store the data locally or in the cloud—or even at all! While these are key corporate decisions that can impact the future of the business, according to InformationWeek’s Digital Business survey, only 9 percent of large companies rate their IoT data analysis abilities as strong and another 13 percent claim having no such ability  at all.3

  1. Data Collection:

Collecting data starts with introducing new servers and software. When 30 percent of enterprises already believe IT to be a cost center, additional spending will not help this perception.  IT departments must be willing to work along-side the business, establish industry-standards and decide what software is necessary for IoT adoption. Although working with third-party partners could be very important at this point, many vendors don’t offer supply chain of hardware or conflict resolution if their systems don’t integrate properly. In the end, IT is left to shoulder the burden and determine its own strategy.

  1. Data Storage:

Once data has been collected, IT has to work with the rest of the organization to figure out why it’s important and what to do with it. Developing better methods for storing client and employee data means safeguarding it as well. Businesses need to invest in more security as federal and local requirements change, the IoT grows and data and systems are brought up to standards.

It’s increasingly important for IT professionals to understand how to navigate this expansive landscape of multiple connected devices. The key is to offer network security and scalability without maxing out a company’s resources. With billions of devices poised to connect to the Internet, organizations are exposed to numerous new end points that can compromise the network. However, IoT will drive tough organizational structure changes in companies to allow innovation to be transparent to everyone, while creating new competitive business models and products .Overall, the takeaway is clear: IT organizations must plan effectively to ensure adequate operating system, firmware, and patch support within the new IoT age.

What changes, if any, has your organization made to prepare for the Internet of Things?

Posted By: Ariana Hampton-Marcell

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