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What's the Internet of Things' enterprise potential?

With the advent of the Internet of Things, IT pros will be wondering what it can do for them and how to prepare. This FAQ can help.

As more devices, appliances and machines gain connectivity, it's time to figure out just what the Internet of Things is, what its uses are and what the Internet of Things' enterprise potential is. This FAQ answers some of the most common questions about the next big trend in technology.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is the concept of a world in which most living and non-living objects will have sensors and monitors that transmit data through wireless. According to this idea, eventually anything that you can dream of being connected to the Internet will be, with an end goal of performing more automated, efficient tasks.

Is the Internet of Things just a fad?

No. The march towards everything being connected is steadily increasing in tempo. Much of the technology required for a fully connected world already exists, and the real-world potential can already be seen in innovations such as wearables and smart thermostats. Several vendors have even formed a consortium to create connectivity standards to guide the development of devices and applications that will be part of the Internet of Things going forward.

What are the business applications for the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things can be used to automate and monitor pretty much everything imaginable. For example, meeting room lights and air conditioning could turn on when they sense your phone nearby, or your work computer could boot up when your car tells it you’re five minutes away from the office. Being able to keep track of any and all data produced by connected devices and using that to automate the menial tasks that take up time in the workplace could do wonders for businesses and efficiency overall.

But the Internet of Things will add an entirely new layer of complexity, especially when it comes to data centers' daily monitoring and management of devices. Terabytes of data will use up storage and bandwidth in data centers that are unprepared for the sheer amount of traffic that interconnected devices will generate.

Is the Internet of Things enterprise-ready?

It depends. Being that every object in the Internet of Things generates and transmits data, companies will need substantially more storage and bandwidth.

New traffic management policies will also be required to prevent network congestion from stymying critical information. For organizations with networks that are already at capacity, the Internet of Things will not be a reality until infrastructure is improved. Likewise, if IT staff is unprepared, attempting to implement automation via the Internet of Things could be disastrous -- especially when it comes to security.

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IoT will have its challenges from an infrastructure perspective, for sure, but companies like IBM, Intel and Flow are introducing highly scalable, secure solutions that are available on demand from the cloud for developers. It's all new, but technology is evolving quickly.
One thing they will need to do in preparation is to be proactive in determining how their cyber security policies and procedures are going to address IoT across the enterprise.