As IoT devices proliferate every area of business, organizations need to ensure they're managing them and the network supporting them correctly.
Organizations rely more on IoT devices to make good decisions, out-think the competition, reduce costs and increase efficiency across the organization. Although IoT networks are quickly becoming more widespread, there are still significant challenges to managing an IoT network. Whether it's connectivity or data obstacles, scalability or security, today's enterprises struggle to manage it all. As IoT devices become more embedded in organizations, it's incumbent on all stakeholders to learn more about them and participate in the process of IoT management. To succeed, IoT leaders must plan to tackle the top five challenges of managing IoT.
1. Data management
IoT networks generate unprecedented volumes of data that are increasingly critical to the regular business operations. Managing the mountains of data they produce poses a challenge, so data management must be top of mind.
Organizations must ensure collection of only the data the team wants to log and analyze. Extra information will make it harder to draw meaningful insights.
It's essential for IoT experts to find the right combination of software that will track and analyze the collected data effectively and the storage option that can handle it all. Many organizations are turning to cloud offerings for their IoT data, but some still rely on on-premises products. All technology must be integrated if organizations hope to have easy access to the data and the insights it can provide.
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The neglected side of IoT data management is the bandwidth the data uses as it travels the network from device to storage to processor and back again. For IoT devices connected through cellular networks, providers offer data plans with different uptime and bandwidth service levels. Even momentary downtime could be critical for an organization handling sensitive data.
2. Power management
Power usage is another IoT device management factor of which many enterprises are not aware. IoT devices either use regular electrical power in hard-to-reach locations or battery power in remote areas. While most technology is advancing rapidly, battery life still lags. Organizations continuously monitor remote IoT device batteries and schedule regular maintenance, recharging or replacement. Finding ways to conserve device power when not in use can help IT teams manage a fleet of remote devices.
3. Device monitoring
With so many IoT devices on the market, IT administrators can get overwhelmed trying to manage them all. Each new sensor, beacon or controller must be installed, configured, monitored, diagnosed, updated and maintained regularly.
IT administrators can manage newer devices easily through online portals or IoT device management software. Earlier devices may require extra work, and IT teams must often implement additional measures to monitor and manage them, such as adding a subnet to help boost legacy device performance.
Compounding these challenges are the devices placed in remote locations away from the enterprise's main facilities. Deploying IoT devices capable of remote monitoring, updates and diagnostics will make it easier for the IT team responsible for them.
4. Device connectivity
Network traffic and internet connectivity increases with each new IoT device, so the network must scale to accommodate them. Some devices use wired connections, but most rely on wireless technology. The most up-to-date Wi-Fi technology can ensure high uptime and scalability. Some organizations may turn to cellular networks to connect devices in populated or urban areas. Remote devices that rely on cellular connections may lead to an increase in the regular fees wireless providers charge and any overages the devices incur.
Each IoT device is a potential entry point for bad actors to target an enterprise's network. Provisioning and authentication can help prevent unauthorized users or devices from connecting to the organization's devices or network. Provisioning enrolls the new IoT device to the network, while authentication verifies that it is authorized to access the network through secure credentials.
IT administrators must plan IoT device updates because IoT technology changes rapidly. Vendors can release updates and fixes to the firmware, software or device controllers at any time, so IT admins will need to plan for them. Physically connected devices can update safely if they're within the enterprise network. Remote device updates may require extra planning to avoid crossing into any high-peak work periods or a device's power-saving off time.
IT admins should also put safeguards in place to protect data transmitted over IoT networks. Hackers can intercept transmissions between devices and the network, especially remote devices. Organizations should only use secure, password-protected wireless networks.