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The Internet of Things could put a whole slew of new device types to work in the enterprise.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a series of machines or devices connected -- typically through wireless -- to the Internet. Wearables, such as fitness trackers and smartwatches, are probably the most common IoT devices in the marketplace today, but they are only a small subset of the overall trend.
The Internet of Things will give IT a lot to think about. As a general strategy, enterprise IT wants to protect company data and its unified endpoints. Within its network, even IoT devices will transmit data through an endpoint device or on the company network. Most enterprise areas that are managing IT are concerned more about the devices that are brought into the enterprise, not the IoT devices or network the company is providing.
If you are talking about security and IoT policies, a common thread emerges. As a company, it's important to provide the tools, avenues or policies proactively so your workers will comply. If you limit access, you may create obstacles for workers trying to become more productive.
The IoT is estimated to generate revenues of $4.8 trillion in 2012 and $8.9 trillion by 2020, according to International Data Corporation. Because of this growth, it’s worth taking a look at where the IoT may be heading next -- especially in the enterprise.
Connected cars and homes
The connected car and home are two fronts where IoT is already making headway. Auto manufacturers, Internet and wireless providers, repair facilities and insurance companies are already investing in connected cars and homes, which will be all about the data that helps inform businesses how to personalize their services towards their customers. Apple invested in the connected car with CarPlay, which is compatible with iOS 7. The company is also releasing a connected-home option, called HomeKit, which will be available for use with iOS 8 SDK.
Google has purchased Nest, the smart thermostat manufacturer, in an effort to connect into the home.
What remains to be seen is how enterprises will use connected cars and homes to help make their workers more productive. I can picture enterprise mobility management vendors extending their services to the connected car and home -- for example, you might be able to read email, or have it read to you, through the car or from your refrigerator.
From patient care to devices built to aid doctors and nurses, IoT is already transforming healthcare. In addition, soon things like implants will become more persistent with nanotechnology to help track your vital statistics, sleep schedule and more.
Businesses will use IoT devices to help improve worker productivity. This is more of an example of iteration than an evolution, though -- a connected enterprise may be capable of tracking fleet vehicles or tracking your sales force. A connected enterprise could also include better functionality, giving enterprises the ability to to transfer data from smartphones to smart boards or control TVs, robots and other devices that connect workers to big data across the enterprise, or even the world.