The internet of things (IoT) has existed for several years, but it’s finally reaching a point where it impacts the day-to-day lives of IT professionals.
The internet of things is when you take objects such as a car, a coffee maker, your clothes, a thermostat, etc., and outfit them with technology that allows them to connect to each other via the internet and exchange data.
Businesses in almost every market sector are starting or continuing to invest in IoT technology, hoping to improve operations, transform business models, enhance customer communications, or “revolutionize” inventory management.
If you count yourself in that group of IT professionals, here are six things to know and do about the Internet of Things impact to help you develop career skills, build job security, and ensure company success.
1. Understand the IoT’s pervasiveness
Christianna Silva, a writer for NPR, says, “The internet of things will continue to spread between now and 2026, until human and machine connectivity becomes ubiquitous and unavoidably present.”
Gartner predicts nearly 21 billion devices will be connected by 2020 with more than half of major new business processes and systems using some aspect of the IoT. Accenture offers a similar forecast, albeit in dollar signs and specific to the industrial sector. The consulting firm estimates the industrial internet of things could add a little over $14 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
The number of devices connected to the internet of things is only going to increase. (Image source: Statista)
2. Study the internet of things
Almost everyone’s heard of the internet of things, but few understand what it is exactly or how it furnishes real-world value. You shouldn’t wait to develop that recognition. Instead, Cristian Rennella, vice president of technology and cofounder of elMejorTrato, suggests that IT pros should “start by studying [the IoT] right now.”
The classes may prove even more beneficial than that. Rennella notes his studies led to implementing IoT initiatives at his own company. They could do the same for you, securing not only the IoT’s value to the business but also your own value.
3. Share what you know
As you become the de facto IoT expert at your company, share your wisdom. Many businesses want to employ the IoT, big data, or artificial intelligence (AI), but they get lost in all the statistics and potential applications.
Help your executives avoid analysis paralysis.
When working through these five processes, prioritize the ones that tie directly to your company’s business strategy in order to, as Marr says, “generate the biggest business value.”
The last step, for example, requires thinking of data as a prized asset and using it to “sell” your business to other entities.
4. Transform your architecture
Accomplishing those five tactics, however, requires rethinking your IT architecture. Standard architecture rarely offers the support the internet of things needs. The IoT demands an always-on network with seamless connectivity and built-in redundancy.
McKinsey speaks to those elements—the firm says, “Elements of companies’ current technology stacks may need to be redesigned so they can support billions of interdependent processing events per year from millions of products, devices, and applications.”
Basically, if you and your company want to extract value from the IoT, make sure the underlying support is as strong—and elastic—as it can be.
5. Find internal convergence points
Once you think through IoT tactics and architecture, address internal convergence points. Many IoT technologies, such as smart building-management systems, bridge both information technology and operational technology (OT).
The beneficial opportunities coming out of the IoT will likely outweigh the challenges (Image source: Gartner)
This union is a good thing. As the physical devices generate data, your department governs the data and shares it with other departments, which includes not only operations but also marketing, human resources, sales, transportation, etc.
Those departments, in turn, convert the data into actionable insights, using them to drive productivity, efficiency, or cost savings.
6. Address the privacy and security implications
Finally, consider the IoT’s privacy and security concerns. You may dread them—and you’re not alone.
Many IT professionals remember the risks arising from the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement a few years ago. They shudder when they hear “IoT” because it poses exponentially more security and privacy problems.
But this is the world that exists, and leaving privacy and security concerns to figure themselves out is no way to approach the IoT.
“If we [IT professionals] want to mitigate privacy and security issues,” says David Poulsen, IT expert at CutCableToday. “We’ve got to take proactive steps now. That means securing the perimeter and, if we are manufacturing connected devices, developing those devices with security in mind.”
Start working on your IoT strategy now
The IoT is here to stay and likely will interface with every company at some point. That means IT professionals, no matter if they work at an enterprise or small to midsize business, should evaluate how “big” the IoT is, as well as its business value and security risks. Doing so will help them prepare for the future before it arrives in the workplace.
Does your organization have any tips or tricks for how IT can deal with the IoT? If so, let me know about them in the comments below.
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