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2018 predictions: As momentum surges for IoT, assuring networks will be critical

With the number of connected devices predicted to reach 23.14 billion by 2018, momentum for the internet of things looks set to continue into next year, bringing with it huge potential and a tsunami of data. Already, we’ve seen it impact all elements of the digital economy and unlock enormous benefits for a diverse range of sectors, from automotive to zoology. More so, in a Global Data survey of over 1,000 enterprises, almost 70% said they already met ROI expectations, such as higher levels of efficiency, from their IoT deployments.

This surge in impetus for IoT has been powered by digital transformation, with 73% of IT and business decision-makers identifying IoT as either completely essential or very important to their organization’s digital transformation strategy. As a result, we’ve seen established brands scramble to drive innovation to compete with disruptive businesses born in the digital age. This has caused more and more IoT use cases to emerge, such as Walmart introducing pick-up towers to retrieve goods within 45 seconds of scanning a barcode, or UPS using IoT sensors to reduce its impact on the environment by monitoring its mileage, optimum speed and overall engine health.

But as the amount of IoT devices and use cases surges, businesses will be under increasing pressure to maintain connectivity and communication across a myriad of devices and infrastructures. In 2018, IoT data paired with machine learning and end-to-end service visibility will therefore become key determiners for success.

Service delivery fundamental to business success

In today’s digital world, enterprises need to perform flawlessly to stay competitive. This has been compounded by the introduction of IoT technologies, which now underpin critical applications such as disaster monitoring, renewable energy and military situational awareness. And as more and more things become connected and sensors, mobile devices, digital services and broadband networks dramatically increase the volume, velocity and variety of data traversing the IT infrastructure, service delivery assurance will become essential and the determining factor whether an enterprise survives, thrives or nosedives. In a world where there is no off, services will need to be deployed securely and swiftly with optimal performance, otherwise businesses risk being left behind.

Infrastructure becoming increasingly complex

This will lead to the emergence of new technologies to support IoT applications and critical systems, spanning the edge, core and cloud of the service delivery environment. Interoperability will be paramount, making it likely we’ll see a wave of standards emerge to ensure devices, platforms, applications and services can connect and communicate, regardless of make or manufacturer.

While the benefits of IoT and the new services that it can enable will be attractive to enterprises and customer alike, the growth of IoT presents challenges. Every system upgrade, new connection or third-party application added to existing IT infrastructure will increase complexity of service delivery governed by enterprise IT, and the CIO must therefore take a management role through this transformation to ensure this environment does not descend into chaos. To achieve this, pervasive, end-to-end visibility will be vital.

Smart data enabling companies to thrive

Pervasive visibility has two key dimensions: depth of visibility and breadth of visibility. This means that organizations have complete visibility of all transactions taking place across their entire IoT service delivery infrastructure, including physical, virtual and cloud, and understand how all the services that this infrastructure enables are being consumed.

All the information that traverses the IT service delivery infrastructure — the “wire data” — can be utilized to generate smart data, but it must be properly processed to distill the most meaningful intelligence. Smart data can be scaled and provided in real time, allowing enterprises to quickly respond to market dynamics and gain a top-down detailed picture of the IT environment to truly understand what is really happening with applications and services.

Smart data is already used to power a range of business analytics across different industries including automotive, manufacturing and healthcare, and we expect it to become a core component of enterprises’ digital future in 2018. IoT applications and traffic flows now have elements bridging multiple domains, such as cloud and virtualization. Fortunately, through utilizing smart data, enterprises can assure their business services across these new digital infrastructure and applications architectures. With the proliferation of IoT sensors, mobile devices and digital services creating an abundance of data, having the ability to turn this information into meaningful and actionable insights will help businesses to thrive next year and beyond.

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