The Internet of Things' future role in enterprises

The Internet of Things is guaranteed to make life more interesting, but how does it fit into the enterprise?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an overarching term for a world in which objects, animals and people are connected...

wirelessly, encompassing machine-to-machine communication and wearables. As it gets closer to becoming a reality, IT admins are wondering: Is it just a fad? What are its business applications? What role should it play in the enterprise?

The Internet of Things is not a fad; in fact, it could penetrate the enterprise much faster than either the iPhone or Android did. Most of the technology that is needed to develop the Internet of Things is available today, and the possibilities for the enterprise can already be seen in the innovations happening in the consumer market. Wearables, such as the line of FitBit products and Samsung's Galaxy Gear, are showing up as a way to incentivize employees to get healthy and reduce wellness claims in the organization. There is even a consortium of vendors that want to form connectivity standards that will provide guidance to those developing applications or devices that will be a part of the Internet of Things.

A typical day in the Internet of Things' future could start with your car letting you know that traffic is bad and you should take a different route. Because of the traffic data, the order you normally place at the employee cafeteria for breakfast can be delayed and made ready for you based on the estimated time it will take you to get to work. The information is then used to reschedule your meetings and inform the proper parties. The sensor in your car allows you to enter the employee gate, and a special parking spot is opened up for you near the part of the building where you will have the most meetings. These are all examples of conveniences made possible by the Internet of Things even before you step foot into the workplace. Now imagine what this could do for your business.

Is the enterprise ready for the Internet of Things? When you talk to network and security management admins, they always mention protecting company data. Data is the common thread for the Internet of Things; the "thing" is either submitting data or it is consuming data. An interconnected world will most likely require substantial more storage to understand, store and manage this data. The data needs to travel from machine to human or machine to machine, and this communication requires some sort of Internet connectivity. Some of the devices are not on all the time or may only produce a small amount of power, which could make it difficult to capture the data.

How EMM may respond to IoT

Off the bat, enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors may not be able to handle the influx from the Internet of Things. EMM vendors are used to developing tools for endpoint devices such as mobile phones and tablets, which usually require a client app to be put on the device to make sure it's secure. Typically, there is lag time between the latest release of a new operating system like iOS 7 or Android KitKat, which extends the length of time required to secure a device. A device on the Internet of Things may not even be able to install a client to secure it or use the same Internet protocols to connect to other devices.

More than likely, enterprises will start by deploying a separate platform to run their Internet of Things devices to keep data secure. It will become tricky when devices on this "extra" platform need to connect to other company resources.

The Internet of Things world is just around the corner, and it will definitely provide both exciting opportunities and challenges. Enterprises should embrace these new opportunities to prevent employees from needing to find their own solutions.

This was last published in May 2014

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How do you think the Internet of Things will affect the enterprise?
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The biggest impact will be what might otherwise hobble its full creative development and the nascent freedom to innovate: security aspects affecting the deployment of 50 billion IOT nodes chatting away incessantly on the internet. The vulnerabilities are mind boggling, we will not have a one solution which fits all, and therein lies the minefield to make them all talk seamlessly and with full security. Sill, solution(s) will be found through some of the greatest innovations yet to come.
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It will increase the importance of governance, to get everyone in the meeting when all have free-flowing, flexible schedules. Perhaps the traditional concept of meetings goes away.
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it will revolutionize the way we work, live and play.
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Examples cited here will help improve productivity by better time management.
Some other utilities of IOT could be
1. Reduce cycle time of business and improve efficiency 
ex. in a sales situation wherein sales exec today faces customer who is more knowledgeable (mostly) and needs SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to help provide info/demo of the offering he/she is trying to sell, which can be done instantly with IOT
2. Have business growth be covering more customers (Fallout of above)
3. Improve working capital and freecash flow - when u reduce cycletime of business from sourciing to sale/delivery u get cash faster which can help rotate cash more and derive more profits.

Regards, 
rravihcl@gmail.com
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Great ideas, rravihcl - though I wonder if some of what you're talking about could just be accomplished through current mobile technology, and not additional connected devices?
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I'm mildly skeptical of the need for an Internet of Things, to be honest, since I've seen so much convergence come to play in the mobile space. People don't really want a lot of connected devices. They want one device that can do everything. seemed far fetched just a few years ago, but today's smart phones, especially the "phablet" variety, seem to be the true consumers of the "internet of things" philosophy and energy. I of course reserve the right to be proven wrong ;).
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The IoT will upend everything, from top to bottom and everywhere between. It changes who we interact with the world and how the world interacts with us.

Do we need to connect everything to everything? Probably not, but the technology is so new, we're still exploring the edges. As soon as the starter was invented, cars no longer needed a hand-crank. I suspect the IoT will evolve in much the same way. 
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One way that I see it affecting the enterprise is that it will make us reassess how we approach security. I’ve already seen this with mobile devices in general (for instance we now have three wireless networks - standard, guest, and mobile). Why not add one more - IoT.
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Sure, it will penetrate
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One thing seems clear, there is going to be another proliferation of devices, components and end points for enterprises to deal with - akin to when smart phones popped onto the scene. However these may be smaller, discrete, single purpose, embedded devices and so managing them and securing them will be more complex.
Businesses are still having issues securing their server, desktop and mobile estates. I'd like to think that good security practice will prevail - but I'm not so sure - I think that inevitably the attack surface will continue to exceed the ability to protect it.
I'm predicting personally that increased vigilance, monitoring and threat detection is going to be key to dealing with this.
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Securing them will also be made more complex by the lack of a singular, unified security standard.
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