Points to Ponder for Successful IoT Implementation

By CIOReview | Monday, July 11, 2016
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According to a recent study, the Internet of Things (IoT) could have a global economic impact of $11 trillion by 2025. After the Internet wave of the 90s’ and the mobile wave of the 2000s’, IoT is the third technological tsunami which is deemed to be transforming businesses across industries. As this new technological rage expands from millions of devices to tens of billions in the next few years, it will have major impacts on infrastructure, standards, security, business philosophies, and workflows of organizations. Moreover, with IoT driving Digital Manufacturing (or Industry 4.0 as Germans call it), the global manufacturing sector is about to witness a paradigm shift in production processes and logistics operations.

In spite of the huge opportunities promised by IoT, enterprises have often been hesitant in adopting IoT solutions since many technologies involved—big data analytics, business systems, networks, and security tools—are fairly complicated and risky. To put the current IoT state of affairs into perspective, Jim Tully, Vice President and a distinguished analyst at Gartner believes, “The IoT will have a great impact on the economy by transforming many enterprises into digital businesses and facilitating new business models, improving efficiency, and generating new forms of revenue. However, the ways in which enterprises can actualize any benefits will be diverse and, in some cases, painful.”

Then again, all is not doom and gloom; a successful IoT adoption is just a few steps away if enterprises consider the following factors before making that giant leap.

1. ROI

Return on investment for an IoT project can be different from that of normal enterprise software. It can help the enterprise in multiple ways, including cost efficient production, streamlined operations, reduced time, increased efficiency, innovations, and more. The latest survey by Tech Pro Research reports that at least 68 percent of enterprise IoT users have registered some ROI. According to Forbes, there will be an average of 27 percent revenue increase for industrial manufacturers while banking and financial services firms will witness a 19 percent revenue surge by 2018 from their investments on IoT initiatives. All these statistics suggest positive impact on enterprises by with IoT implementation. However, the process is much like eating broccoli, where in the advantages are only visible after months or even years since implementation.  

2. Scalability in Infrastructure

Within months of adopting an IoT solution, bandwidth needs in an enterprise will require modifications as millions of devices join the network, sometimes faster than a blink of an eye. These devices will begin transmitting billions of bits of data, necessitating enhanced cloud storage systems. Millions of devices would mean millions of entry points into the systems, which call for highly fortified networks against security breaches. On the whole, enterprises must opt for an IoT platform with a growing type of architecture in order to support such mass influx of connected devices. You don’t want to be left unprepared, do you?

3. Flexibility

All enterprise devices need to be managed. Simplifying and streamlining the management of devices is critical for a successful IoT implementation. The more consolidated an IoT solution is, easier will be the implementation, maintenance, and upgrading.  Organizations should be in the lookout for a solution with enough flexibility to accommodate both existing devices as well as the ones which may join down the road. The solution is required to be compatible with the existing technology, so that, enterprises are not forced to slash and burn what they have.

4. Security

Security is a MAJOR concern when implementing an IoT strategy. In 2015, Kaspersky published a paper titled the “Internet of Crappy Things” which highlighted the security issues with IoT. For enterprises, security issues pose safety risks related to employee privacy, unauthorized access issues and, of course, hardware and software security breaches. To minimize such threats, enterprises need to adopt a “security-by-design” approach when designing IoT implementations. But is that enough? Sadly, the answer is no. It is critically important for organizations to conduct an analysis of the various threats which they are likely to encounter and always have an exit strategy. Remember, to arrive at peace, be ready for war.

5. Compliance

Enterprises should be aware of the fact that as IoT evolves, governments around the world will alter their legalities as well as regulations surrounding the technology. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report urging lawmakers to initiate “concrete steps that businesses can take to enhance and protect consumers' privacy and security, as Americans start to reap the benefits from a growing world of Internet-connected devices.” Though the commission’s report does not call for any immediate regulations, the U.S. Congress has already started contemplating different ways to ensure steadfast privacy and security practices. It’s clear that most of these regulations will be either related to privacy issues or the misuse of data. For organizations looking to pull off successful IoT implementations without having to face frequent regulatory fines; the way is unambiguous, but not easy. They need to enforce data policies and regimes that minimize exposure to threats.

Creating Value for Enterprises from IoT

For a successful IoT implementation everyone in an enterprise­ has an important role to play–be it C-level officers or IT administrators. Also, by bringing skilled professionals in areas like wireless, cloud, data management, and business processes, companies can negate certain IoT issues to an extent. An alternative for organizations is to augment the in-house skills through partnering with a professional services firm that has an IoT practice.

Value generation from IoT requires more than just connecting sensors and devices. It is a combination of multiple factors including big data, cloud, network, and infrastructure. It’s true that IoT is still in its premature stages and is often referred to as ‘Internet of NoThings’. However, in an IoT-enabled world, enterprises will have direct knowledge about customers’ product usage; they will be able to market and customize their offerings to a variety of needs; they will be able to refine their business predictions; and ensure direct long-term relationships with customers. IoT is here to stay. But, the big question is whether enterprises are ready.