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What are the collaboration and IoT challenges facing IT?

IT must address certain challenges of IoT and collaboration platforms, such as heightened bandwidth demands, employee mobility expectations and the need for better analytics tools.

IT faces specific challenges when considering collaboration and the Internet of Things (IoT) together or as separate entities. Defining those challenges largely depends on business-level priorities rather than what's best for IT.

IoT challenges are the more complex of the two, as IoT requires new technologies that IT will need to acquire and integrate with existing infrastructure. This could be an all-consuming task, one that would push other IT projects -- like deploying collaboration platforms -- further down the list of priorities.

For IoT to be effective, IT would need to Web-enable many new endpoints, not just so employees can communicate with each other, but also for machine-to-machine (M2M) data sharing. Ideally, this would be a good time to deploy collaboration software since it connects employees better, especially for real-time communication.

To support all this, however, networks would likely need upgrading, and a strong business case might be required to get the funding. This challenge could be considerable given the difficulty of showing a return on investment (ROI) for both collaboration platforms and IoT -- these are still two emerging opportunities where the benefits are not easy to quantify.

To overcome collaboration and IoT challenges, IT should focus on three key areas.

First, address the bandwidth needed to carry all this traffic, especially as M2M creates new data streams from a multitude of endpoints. Collaboration platforms will lead to greater use of video and content sharing, which are bandwidth-intensive and require real-time access to be effective.

Second, IT faces the growing need to support mobile devices. BYOD is really just the beginning. Collaboration platforms have historically lagged in this regard, but this has to change as deeper employee engagement is needed for these platforms to deliver a good ROI. Employees expect to use their work-related applications on the go, and when the network can deliver that collaboration adoption should flourish.

The third challenge requires IT to get the right tools and expertise to manage all the data generated by collaboration software and IoT. The area of predictive analytics is very new but necessary to manage an overwhelming volume of data and improve business performance.

When IT gets a jump on IoT challenges, not only will they generate new value for the business and help employees become more productive, but they'll be in a position to own the data within the organization. Many conventional IT functions are now outsourced to the cloud, so big data and IoT represent an opportunity to reinvent the IT group and remain relevant as new technologies are adopted.

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