The Internet of Things (IoT) is quite the topic these days, and that is no surprise, considering IDC predicts it will generate $7.1 trillion in revenue by 2020 and $255 billion in the enterprise by 2019. A report by Gartner also says 43% of enterprises have already started an IoT project. The fact of the matter is IoT is here, and the impact on business is very hard to imagine.
If you are an enterprise and thinking about your next big innovation or business process efficiency investment, you might want to consider an IoT use case that will help you leapfrog your competition and help you reach your mission-critical business goals. With the data that is available today, you have the potential to this information to predict customer behavior and adjust operations accordingly, reduce costs, improve customer and employee experience, generate new revenue and more.
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Because of the many technologies involved with IoT—big data analytics, business systems, networks, security, etc.—solutions can become fairly complicated. IT has a critical role to ensure IOT project success. In fact, it is really going to be up to the IT departments—particularly in service- and cloud-based solutions—to make IoT visions a reality.
So, let’s talk about the five key factors that enable IoT success for enterprises considering IoT investments.
1. Focus on a Specific Use Case with a Measurable ROI
This could be a way to minimize unscheduled maintenance for an airline or shop floor, streamline field service, improve customer experience, increase knowledge of your customers, predict customer behaviors or automate a manual business process.
Ideally, you can measure and understand the potential ROI upfront. ROI can come in many forms, including reduced cost, streamlined operations, reduced time, increased revenue, news innovations and more. According to Forbes, there will be an average of 27% revenue increase by 2018 from IoT Initiatives. It is already happening today.
Focusing on a use case and the ROI potential will help you leverage IoT technology to maximize its impact on your organization.
2. Scale Your Infrastructure
When you implement IoT, bandwidth needs will change as new devices join the network, sometimes at alarming rates. As potentially millions of devices connect to your infrastructure, they will begin transmitting billions of bits of data, which will make your data storage costs go up. And then, needless to say, millions of devices means millions of entry points into your systems, so you need to fortify your networks against security breaches, too. Here is a good article on IoT infrastructure readiness, and how to prepare for it.
3. Streamline Management
Today, there is a huge effort in enterprises to streamline management of devices and applications. At the same time, “things” and gateways are critical to IoT and really are just an extension of devices, such as laptops and smartphones.
In addition, IoT applications are similar to any other application—SaaS, mobile virtual, on-premise or IoT apps. All these devices behave similarly, such as configurations, upgrades, security, users, etc. And all enterprise devices need to be managed. Simplifying this as much as possible is critical.
The more consolidated your management solution, the easier it will be to implement, maintain and upgrade. Find a solution that not only supports your existing legacy devices and apps, but also has enough flexibility to grow as the IoT sphere evolves.
4. Adopt a Security-by-Design Approach
Security should be a primary concern when implementing an IOT strategy.
“70% of connected IoT devices lack fundamental security safeguards.”
—Global State of Information Security Survey 2015
Security concerns pertain to employee privacy, unauthorized access issues and, of course, hardware and software security breaches. To minimize these threats, you need to adopt a “security-by-design” approach when designing IoT implementations.
5. Be Ready for Emerging Rules & Regulations
The use of IoT devices creates many new issues around regulations and legalities. As the IoT sphere evolves, these questions will only increase. As an enterprise, some issues you may run into may be:
- Privacy-related: what and how much data to collect;
- Geo-location specific: data collected in one country and processed in another country with different rules; or
- Simple misuse of data: mistakenly using data for an unintended use case.
In light of these concerns, self-regulation may be key for the time being. Some emerging laws and regulation on IoT are European Union: General Data Protection Regulation.
Looking Forward: Delving into IoT’s Enterprise Potential & Best Practices
All these factors and more will play a big role in how your IoT efforts are implemented and its ability to be successful business initiatives within your enterprise.
This is my first in a planned series of blogs about IoT. As my colleagues and I work with customers and partners to learn best practices, our hope is to spread the word and share tangible use-case successes with you, our readers.
In the coming blog posts, we will delve deeper into each of these issues, discuss pros and cons and share VMware’s strategy, approach and best practices.
What IoT successes and concerns are you seeing in your business? How do you plan to enable IoT and manage the influx of newly connected devices? What would you like us to talk about in future blogs? Share your thoughts, stories and questions in the comments below.
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